President Joe Biden mischaracterized the death of Brian Sicknick on Wednesday, contradicting the medical examiner's report by claiming the U.S. Capitol Police officer was killed by "criminals" who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Sicknick, 42, died on Jan. 7, one day after rioters broke into the Capitol as lawmakers counted electoral votes to affirm Biden's victory over former President Donald Trump. There were false reports about the cause of death, with many outlets initially saying he was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher, a claim that was later debunked.
Biden, answering questions from reporters at a Geneva press conference following a bilateral summit with Vladimir Putin, told reporters that it was "ridiculous" to compare the events of Jan. 6 to the opposition protests that Putin used to maintain his grip on power and jail political dissidents, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, whom the United States says was also poisoned with an illegal nerve agent by Russian intelligence.
"That's a ridiculous comparison," Biden said. "It's one thing for literally criminals to break through cordon, go into the Capitol, kill a police officer, and be held unaccountable than it is for people objecting and marching on the Capitol and saying, 'You are not allowing me to speak freely. You are not allowing me to do A, B, C, or D.'"
The chief medical examiner’s office told the Washington Examiner in April that Sicknick’s “cause of death” was “acute brainstem and cerebellar infarcts due to acute basilar artery thrombosis," a stroke, and the “manner of death” was “natural.” The medical examiner said Sicknick was sprayed with a chemical substance at about 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 6, collapsed at the Capitol at about 10 p.m., and was transported by emergency services to a local hospital. He died at about 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7. Francisco Diaz, the chief medical examiner, told the Washington Post that Sicknick died after suffering two strokes, did not suffer an allergic reaction to chemical irritants, and bore no evidence of either external or internal injuries, but he contended that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.“
The medical examiner’s office noted that the term “natural” is “used when a disease alone causes death” and “if death is hastened by an injury, the manner of death is not considered natural.”
In its initial statement on Sicknick, the Capitol Police said he "was injured while physically engaging with protesters" and that he "was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.” The Capitol Police released a statement after the medical examiner’s findings were made public, claiming that "this does not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the Line of Duty.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed in May that there were “a number of officers” who died the day of the Capitol riot, and a bipartisan Senate report claimed this month that three police officers “ultimately lost their lives” as a result of the storming of the Capitol.
The New York Times reported on Jan. 8, citing "two law enforcement officials," that Sicknick was beaten with a fire extinguisher and died hours later. In February, the outlet updated its report about the Capitol riot to say that "law enforcement officials initially said Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, but weeks later, police sources and investigators were at odds over whether he was hit." But a Democratic pretrial impeachment memo had already cited the New York Times's reporting, saying, "The insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”
Julian Khater and George Tanios were charged in March with coordinating to assault Sicknick and two other officers with a chemical spray, but the men were not accused of killing Sicknick, and no one has been charged in connection with his death.
This week, Attorney General Merrick Garland compared the Capitol riot of Jan. 6 to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, which killed 168 people, and FBI Director Christopher Wray said last week that nothing, including Jan. 6, could be compared to the "horror" of 9/11.
The Department of Justice investigation has often pointed to violence conducted against officers by rioters and has focused on actions taken by members of groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, many of whom it has hit with conspiracy charges. The DOJ announced in April that it would not pursue charges against the officer who fatally shot Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt inside the Capitol during the riot, determining there was “insufficient evidence” to support a criminal prosecution.
While seeking to deflect criticism from his authoritarian rule, Putin also referenced Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. while defending his sweeping jailing of political dissidents on Wednesday, claiming that he would not allow rioting, like the kind that broke out in major cities following some of the BLM protests, to take place on Russian soil.
You can watch all of Biden's press conference below.
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Original Author: Christian Datoc, Jerry Dunleavy
Original Location: Biden claims Jan. 6 rioters killed Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick