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Capitol Police officer’s ‘natural’ death to remain classified as in the line of duty

Comes after D.C. medical examiner revealed autopsy results for Brian Sicknick

A Capitol Police Officer pays her respects to Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
A Capitol Police Officer pays her respects to Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained during the Jan. 6 insurrection. (Anna Moneymaker/New York Times/POOL)

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s death will remain classified as a line of duty death after D.C.’s chief medical examiner found the 42-year old’s manner of death was natural and caused by two strokes.

Sicknick spent hours defending the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. He was sprayed with a chemical irritant at around 2:20 p.m. and collapsed at approximately 10 p.m. He died around 9:30 p.m. the next evening. The Washington Post first reported on the findings from Sicknick’s autopsy conducted by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Francisco J. Diaz’s office.

The line of duty death classification for Sicknick, who lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda in February, will remain intact, a Capitol official not authorized to speak on the record confirmed to CQ Roll Call. This means Sicknick’s family is eligible to receive benefits stemming from his death.

“The USCP accepts the findings from the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner that Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes,” the Capitol Police said in a statement. “This does not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”

The Capitol Police department can collect unsolicited, private donations from the Capitol Police Board Memorial fund and use the money to pay a death gratuity to the family of officers killed in the line of duty and expenses for officers with serious injuries. The fund currently pays $200,000 for the death gratuity.

This year has been marred by tragedy for the department. Days after Sicknick’s death, Officer Howard Liebengood, who was on duty Jan. 6, died by suicide.

On April 2, Noah Green slammed a car into Officer Billy Evans and Officer Kenny Shaver, killing Evans and injuring Shaver. Evans lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda last week, a ceremony Shaver attended with a walking boot for his injured leg.

Julian Elie Khater of State College, Pa., and George Pierre Tanios of Morgantown, W.Va., were arrested in March and charged with assaulting federal officers on Jan. 6 with dangerous weapons. The two men were part of the violent mob and are alleged to have worked together to assault Sicknick and other officers with what appeared to be bear spray.

Sicknick, a native of New Jersey, “was injured while physically engaging with protesters,” a Capitol Police statement said after Sicknick died. He joined the department in 2008 and served on the First Responder’s Unit.

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

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