Authorities are getting closer to maybe answering how Officer Sicknick died. Today the NY Times reports the FBI has pinpointed a specific individuals but hasn’t identified him yet.
In a significant breakthrough in the case, investigators have now pinpointed a person seen on video of the riot who attacked several officers with bear spray, including Officer Sicknick, according to the officials. And video evidence shows that the assailant discussed attacking officers with the bear spray beforehand, one of the officials said.
While investigators narrowed potential suspects seen in video footage to a single person this week, they have yet to identify the assailant by name…
In the hours after Officer Sicknick was rushed to the hospital, officials initially said that he had been struck with a fire extinguisher. They later said that there was no evidence to support that he had died from any blunt force trauma. More recently, F.B.I. officials homed in on the potential role of an irritant as a primary factor in his death.
The first point to note is that this once again puts an end to the claim made early on that Sicknick died after being hit with a fire extinguisher. No one is claiming that now and the FBI appears to be zeroed in on the bear spray incident.
That angle isn’t new. When Allahpundit wrote about Sicknick’s death two weeks ago there was already a report that his death may have involved “an irritant, perhaps bear spray.” That report and the current one match up with what Sicknick told his brother when they talked on the phone the night of the riot. Specifically, Sicknick said he’d been “pepper-sprayed twice.”
So the only real news here is that investigators seem to have video of Sicknick being sprayed during the attack. They also have video of the person discussing a plan to carry out attacks on officers. If so then they probably have an image of his face to use in identifying him by name. The last bit of news here is presented sort of off-handedly but may be the most significant in some ways:
Given the evidence available to investigators, prosecutors could be more likely to bring charges of assaulting an officer, rather than murder, in the case. 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.
So it’s not just that he wasn’t killed with a fire extinguisher, it’s that the actual assault probably wasn’t intended to kill. In this case it did and there’s no doubt using bear spray on police is reckless and stupid, but it sounds like we won’t see murder charges once this person is identified. I hope they catch him soon and that he spends some time in jail for his actions.
There were a total of five people who died as a result of what happened that day (plus two officers who committed suicide soon after). Officer Sicknick was hit with bear spray and died the next day. Kevin Greeson of Alabama had a heart attack during the riot. Rosanne Boyland of Georgia was trampled during a shoving match with police in a Capitol entryway. Benjamin Philips had a stroke. And finally Ashli Babbitt was shot by a Capitol Hill Police Officer when trying to climb through a window inside the Capitol.