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Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed in riot, lies in honor

An honor guard carries an urn up U.S. Capitol steps.
An honor guard carries an urn Tuesday with the remains of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and a folded flag up the steps of the Capitol to lie in honor in the Rotunda.
(Associated Press)

Slain Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was lying in honor in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday evening, allowing his colleagues and the lawmakers he protected to pay their respects and to remember the violent attack on Congress that took his life.

Sicknick died after defending the Capitol on Jan. 6 against the mob that stormed the building and interrupted the electoral count after then-President Trump urged supporters on the National Mall to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that Sicknick, who died the next day, was injured “while physically engaging with protesters,” though a final cause of death has not yet been determined.

The arrival of Sicknick’s remains at 9:30 p.m. was solemn, with dozens of Capitol Police standing at attention as his urn was carried up the Capitol steps. There was a viewing period for Capitol Police overnight, and lawmakers were to pay tribute at a ceremony Wednesday morning. A ceremonial departure for Arlington National Cemetery was planned later in the day.

The 42-year-old officer was 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.

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Members of Congress remain shaken by the attack and are grappling with what it means not only for the future of the country, but for their own security as elected representatives. While lawmakers were united in denouncing the riots, and Trump’s role in them, the parties are now largely split on how to move forward.

House Democrats impeached Trump a week after the attack, sending a charge of “incitement of insurrection” to the Senate, where Republicans are not expected to provide the votes necessary to convict him. At the same time, the building has been cut off from the public, surrounded by large metal fences and defended by the National Guard.

Sicknick, 42, of South River, N.J., 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. Like many Capitol Police officers, 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.

Impeachment managers say Trump summoned a mob to D.C. and aimed it “like a loaded cannon” at the Capitol. Trump’s defenders say it was free speech.

There are still questions about his death, which was one of five as a result of the rioting. As the mob forced its way in, 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 may have contributed to his death, the officials said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced last week that Sicknick would lie in honor, which is reserved for a select few. In a joint statement they said 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.”

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

Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues Tuesday that the Capitol Police “demonstrated extraordinary valor” on Jan. 6 and urged members to pay their respects. She has also encouraged members to take advantage of trauma resources available to congressional employees.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she hid in her office bathroom during the Capitol insurrection as a man tried to find her, and says she was assaulted in the past.

She said that 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. During the assault, many of the insurrectionists called out for members, including Pelosi. They also targeted Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the building to preside over the electoral count.

“The insurrectionist attack on January 6 was not only an attack on the Capitol, but was a traumatic assault targeting Members,” she said.


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