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Lawmakers Pay Their Respects as Slain Capitol Police Officer Receives Rare Honor

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Slain U.S. Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick lay in honor on Wednesday in the Rotunda, as colleagues, members of Congress and the president and vice president paid their respects.

Sicknick died in the aftermath of the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Capitol police said in a statement that Sicknick, who died the next day, was injured “while physically engaging with protesters,” though the cause of his death has not been determined.

Sicknick is only the fifth person to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, a designation for those who are not elected officials, judges or military leaders.

The others who have lain in honor were John Gibson and Jacob Chestnut, Jr., two officers who were killed in a 1998 shooting at the Capitol; civil rights leader Rosa Parks, who died in 2005; and the Rev. Billy Graham, who died in 2018.

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President Joe Biden paid tribute to Sicknick shortly after the viewing began Tuesday night. He was accompanied by first lady Jill Biden.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and a handful of other congressional leaders also paid their respects.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, paid their respects on Wednesday. A steady stream of lawmakers and police officers made its way through the Rotunda.

Dozens of Capitol police officers stood at attention as Sicknick’s urn was carried up the Capitol steps on Tuesday night. It is the first time an urn, rather than a casket, has been part of a memorial observance in the Capitol Rotunda.

There was a viewing period for his Capitol police colleagues overnight. A ceremonial departure for Arlington National Cemetery was planned later in the day.

House Democrats impeached Trump a week after the riot on charges of “incitement of insurrection,” but he is unlikely to be convicted.

At the same time, the Capitol has been cut off from the public, surrounded by large metal fences and defended by the National Guard.

Sicknick, 42, of South River, New Jersey, enlisted in the National Guard six months after graduating high school in 1997, then deployed to Saudi Arabia and later Kyrgyzstan. He joined the Capitol police in 2008.

He often worked security in the Capitol itself and was known to lawmakers, staff and others who passed through the building’s doors each morning.

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There are still questions about his death, which was one of five as a result of the rioting. As the mob forced its way into the building, Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, two law enforcement officials said.

He later collapsed, was hospitalized and died. The officials could not discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Investigators are also examining whether he may have ingested a chemical substance during the riot that could have contributed to his death, the officials said.

Pelosi and Schumer announced last week that Sicknick would lie in honor, saying his heroism “helped save lives, defend the temple of our democracy and ensure that the Congress was not diverted from our duty to the Constitution.”

Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday that the Capitol police “demonstrated extraordinary valor” on Jan. 6 and urged members to pay their respects to Sicknick.

She said protecting the Capitol and the lawmakers who work there is a “highest priority” and that there will be a need for extra money to do so.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, said that Sicknick “gave our nation the last full measure of devotion,” alluding to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

“Four weeks ago, the Rotunda was strewn with the debris of an insurrectionist mob,” McConnell said. “Today, it is adorned in solemn thanksgiving for the sacrifice of a hero.”


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