Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was a hero. Nothing can change that.
However, nearly two months after his death following the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion, we don’t know what killed Sicknick — including whether or not he was murdered. And if FBI Director Christopher Wray knows, he’s not letting lawmakers in on it.
In testimony before the Senate on Tuesday, Wray refused to answer direct questions related to how Sicknick died, if a cause of death has been determined, or whether the FBI considered it homicide.
It was first reported, in the immediate aftermath of the violence, that Sicknick had been struck on the head with a fire extinguisher by rioters inside the Capitol, a wound that ostensibly led to his death a day later.
“He ended up with a clot on the brain,” his father, Charles Sicknick, told Reuters. “If they had operated on him, he would’ve become a vegetable.”
However, as The New York Times reported on Friday, there were no signs of serious blunt force trauma that could have caused death, which led investigators to theorize he had a reaction to a chemical irritant — possibly bear spray being used by the rioters — and died from that.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley began by asking Wray whether an exact cause of Sicknick’s death was known and whether there was a homicide investigation open.
Wray’s response was clearly carefully worded.
“There is an ongoing investigation into his death. I have to be careful at this stage, because it’s ongoing, not to get out in front of it, but I certainly understand and respect and appreciate the keen interest in what happened to him,” he said, according to a transcript.
“After all, he was here protecting all of you. And as soon as our information that we can appropriately share, we want to be able to do that. But at the moment, the investigation is still ongoing.”
Did that mean investigators have not determined a cause of death? Grassley asked.
“That means we can’t yet disclose a cause of death at this stage,” Wray responded.
Grassley then asked point-blank if the cause of death had been determined.
“I didn’t say that. We’re not at a point where we can disclose or confirm the cause of death,” Wray responded.
According to the New York Post, Sicknick’s family is also in the dark when it comes to a cause of death.
“He wasn’t hit on the head, no. We think he had a stroke, but we don’t know anything for sure. We’d love to know what happened,” said the officer’s mother, Gladys Sicknick.
How Brian Sicknick died would otherwise be irrelevant; had the Capitol incursion not happened, he might still be alive. His heroism is in no way diminished by the fact he wasn’t killed by a fire extinguisher. That’s why his cremated remains were honored in the Capitol Rotunda in an overnight vigil that started Feb. 2 followed by a memorial ceremony Feb. 3.
What’s obvious at this point, however, is that the mainstream media pushed a false narrative.
And, to be clear, the Capitol Police did little to discourage the original perception that Sicknick’s death came at the hands of rioters. A Jan. 7 news release said Sicknick was “was injured while physically engaging with protesters,” and then “returned to his division office and collapsed.” It doesn’t necessarily follow, however, that the injury had to do with blunt force trauma or was the cause of death.
Yet, the mainstream media rushed to the fire extinguisher conclusion. The New York Times printed it as fact, citing unnamed sources, before it was forced to quietly revise its story. Democrats were so enamored with the fire extinguisher detail they included it in their material supporting the article of impeachment against President Trump.
At present, the bear spray theory seems to be the prevailing one. In its report Friday, The Times stated that “investigators have now pinpointed a person seen on video of the riot who attacked several officers with bear spray, including Officer Sicknick” and that “video evidence shows that the assailant discussed attacking officers with the bear spray beforehand.”
One reason this theory might not be as popular as the fire extinguisher narrative, at least when it comes to the liberals’ favored narrative, is that it makes the Democrats’ description of Sicknick’s death in their impeachment case look like a rush to judgment.
Another issue is that the use of a chemical irritant like bear spray likely wouldn’t lead to a murder conviction:
“Given the evidence available to investigators, prosecutors could be more likely to bring charges of assaulting an officer, rather than murder, in the case,” The Times reported. “But the death of Officer Sicknick, a 42-year-old Air National Guard veteran who served in Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan, could increase the penalties that prosecutors could seek if they took such a case to court.”
Whatever the case, this is some stupendously bad reporting compounded by an FBI that is apparently determined to be as secretive as possible.
Within hours of Sicknick’s death, it seemed, we were told we knew with a fair degree of certainty how Sicknick was killed. Now we only have a vague idea — and it’s completely different from what we were being fed in the first place.
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