After the Washington D.C., medical examiner Francisco Diaz ruled that the Capitol police officer who died after coming face-to-face with rioters who descended on the Capitol building on Jan. 6 passed away from natural causes, conservatives are peddling conspiracy theories. In those theories, they’re alleging there was a mass cover-up orchestrated by the media and the Department of Justice to blame supporters of former President Donald Trump for his death.
Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, suffered two strokes and died of natural causes the day after the riot, the medical examiner’s officer ruled on Monday, April 19.
Investigators initially said Sicknick had been beaten with a fire extinguisher during the riot, and later believed he may have ingested a chemical substance like bear spray that resulted in his death.
However, Diaz didn’t note that Sicknick had suffered an allergic reaction to chemical spray or list any internal or external injuries, The Washington Post first reported.
Although Diaz said that what happened on Jan. 6 “played a role in his condition,” the finding makes it unlikely that federal prosecutors will bring homicide charges in Sicknick’s death. Two men, Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of West Virginia, have been charged with assaulting Sicknick. Each assault charge carries a maximum of about 20 years in prison.
On social media, conservatives accused the Department of Justice of lying about Sicknick’s death. The DOJ said in a statement immediately following his death that Sicknick had succumbed “to the injuries he suffered defending the U.S. Capitol, against the violent mob who stormed it on January 6th.”
According to a timeline of events released by Diaz, Sicknick was sprayed at 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 6, collapsed at 10 p.m. and died at the hospital at around 9:30 p.m. the next day.
Back in February, CNN reported that an investigation into Sicknick’s death had been stalled because there was no evidence of fatal injury, including blunt force trauma.
Lawmakers and the media widely considered Sicknick’s death to be one of the five associated with the riot. Of the four others who died, one was shot by a Capitol officer, two died of natural causes, and one of an accidental overdose.
In total, about 140 officers were injured during the riot. The DOJ has charged more than 100 defendants for assaulting officers during the mayhem.
U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that it accepts the medical examiner’s ruling, but that the finding doesn’t change the fact that Sicknick died in the line of duty.
“The attack on our officers, including Brian, was an attack on our democracy,” police officials said in a statement. “The United States Capitol Police will never forget Officer Sicknick’s bravery, nor the bravery of any officer on January 6, who risked their lives to defend our democracy.”
In February, Sicknick became the fifth person in history to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, a designation for those who are not elected officials, judges or military leaders.