Man initially accused of assaulting fallen Capitol Police officer in riot pleads guilty to 2 misdemeanors

WASHINGTON – One of two men initially charged with assaulting the late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick during the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two misdemeanors: entering restricted grounds and disorderly conduct.

George Tanios, 40, of Morgantown, W.Va., faces up to six months in jail and a $20,000 fine under federal guidelines when he is sentenced Dec. 6 by U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan. Tanios was initially charged with felonies including assaulting police and conspiring to injure police.

His co-defendant, Julian Khater, who is in plea negotiations, awaits trial Oct. 5 on the felony charges. Khater is charged with allegedly spraying Sicknick with Frontiersman bear spray, according to Hogan.

Sicknick died the next day of what was ruled natural causes from strokes.

George Pierre Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, was identified in part by wearing a shirt with a "Sandwich University" logo.
George Pierre Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, was identified in part by wearing a shirt with a "Sandwich University" logo.

Khater is discussing with prosecutors potentially pleading guilty to two counts of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Gilead Light. Guidelines for his sentence would result in 78 to 97 months in prison, Light said.

Khater will consider the offer and make a decision by Aug. 24, according to his lawyer, Chad Seigel.

Police described fierce combat between officers and rioters at the location where Sicknick was injured. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who suffered a concussion when she was knocked to the ground while battling rioters outside the west front of the Capitol, saw Sicknick grab his head and sit down. But she said he turned pale rather than the typical red in reaction to pepper spray.

“All of a sudden, I see movement to the left of me and I turned and it was Officer Sicknick with his head in this hands,” Edwards testified June 9 at a hearing of the House committee investigating the attack. “And he was ghostly pale, which I figured at that point that he had been sprayed and I was concerned.”

“My cop alarm bells went off because if you get sprayed with pepper spray, you're going to turn red,” she added, holding up a sheet of paper. “He turned just about as pale as this sheet of paper.”

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Surveillance video showed Tanios and Khater walking toward the Capitol at 2:09 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, according to court records. Video showed Khater telling Tanios: “Give me that bear (expletive)” before reaching into Tanios' backpack, according to court records.

“Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet… its still early," Tanios replied, according to court records.

At about 2:20 p.m., video showed Khater walking through the crowd to confront a line of police officers including Sicknick and Edwards. At 2:23 p.m., as rioters began pulling on the bicycle rack that police were using to block rioters from the Capitol, the video showed Khater aiming the spray canister at officers and moving his right arm from side to side, according to court records.

Tanios was initially charged with conspiracy to injure officers, assaulting officers, civil disorder and other charges. But a narrowed-down version of the charges filed Wednesday accused him of entering a restricted grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct, which carry maximum penalties of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Man pleads guilty in Capitol attack on late Officer Brian Sicknick