Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Capitol Officer died of ‘natural causes,’ not injuries from riot: coroner


Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick suffered a pair of strokes and ended up dying of natural causes after helping to combat rioters outside Congress in January, but his death was not directly caused by the event, the DC medical examiner said Monday.

The cop, 42,  had been hailed a hero, with President Biden ordering an urn with his ashes to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda — the country’s top tribute to a late private citizen.

Sicknick is only the sixth person in history to receive the honor, which also had been bestowed on civil-rights icon Rosa Parks, renowned televangelist the Rev. Billy Graham and three other Capitol Police officers killed since 1988.

Congress’s top Dems, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, praised “the heroism of Officer Sicknick and the Capitol Police force during the violent insurrection against our Capitol’’ in a joint statement at the time.

“His sacrifice reminds us every day of our obligation to our country and to the people we serve,” they said of Sicknick.

The cop had collapsed after he returned to his office following the protests Jan. 6  and died about eight hours later.

There were early reports he had been struck in the head with a fire extinguisher, but investigators eventually dismissed those claims.

Then two men were charged last month with assaulting Sicknick with bear spray — and a federal prober and second law-enforcement source told The Associated Press at the time that authorities were looking into whether the cop might have ingested the chemical substance, contributing to his death.

Capitol Police pushed the narrative that Sicknick was killed by injuries sustained during the riots.

The officer “was injured while physically engaging with protesters,” Capitol Police said in a statement the day of his death. “He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.”

But the report released by Washington, DC’s, medical examiner Monday will make it difficult for prosecutors to build a homicide case in the officer’s death.

ME Francisco Diaz said in his report that there was no evidence Sicknick suffered a reaction to bear spray.

There were no signs of external or internal injuries on the cop, Diaz said.

Sicknick, a New Jersey native, had a pair of strokes at the base of his brain stem and died, the ME said.

Specifically, the officer succumbed to “acute brainstem and cerebellar infarcts due to acute basilar artery thrombosis,’’ the report said.

When the term “natural causes’’ is used in cases such as this, that means “disease alone causes death,’’ the ME explained in his report.

“If death is hastened by an injury, the manner of death is not considered natural.”



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