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Two arrested, charged with assaulting police officer Brian Sicknick, who died after Capitol riot

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Key Points
  • Authorities have arrested and charged two men with assaulting Brian Sicknick, the police officer who died as a result of the Jan. 6 pro-Trump invasion of the U.S. Capitol.
  • The men, who were arrested separately Sunday, are not currently charged with killing Sicknick.
  • Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of West Virginia, are charged with assaulting Sicknick with a substance similar to bear spray.
  • In initial appearances before separate federal courts Monday afternoon, both men were ordered to be temporarily held behind bars pending future hearings.
George Pierre Tanios, in photo included in FBI arrest warrant.
Source: DOJ

Authorities have arrested and charged two men with assaulting Brian Sicknick, the police officer who died as a result of the Jan. 6 pro-Trump invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of West Virginia, were arrested Sunday and are accused of assaulting Sicknick and other officers with a substance similar to bear spray. They are not currently charged with killing Sicknick.

In initial appearances before separate federal courts Monday afternoon, both men were ordered to be temporarily held behind bars pending future hearings.

Video footage of Khater and Tanios on Jan. 6 shows the two men "were working in concert and had a plan to use the toxic spray against law enforcement," according to a search warrant affidavit in West Virginia federal court.

Julian Khater from his court appearance, March 15, 2021.
Source: Art Lien
George Tanios from his court appearance, March 15, 2021.
Source: Art Lien

"Give me that bear s---," Khater said before reaching into Tanios' backpack, the affidavit alleges, citing "open source media video" of the incident outside the Capitol.

"Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet ... its still early," Tanios responded, the affidavit says.

At around 2:20 p.m., Khater, seen holding a white spray canister, walks toward a bike rack barrier outside the building, where a line of officers, including Sicknick, was stationed, the court document says.

Minutes later, Khater appears to raise the canister and aim it toward the officers, who were standing 5 to 8 feet away, according to the affidavit.

Metropolitan Police Department Officer D. Chapman, who was equipped with a functioning body worn camera (BWC) device, holds up his arm against a person, identified by the Department of Justice as Julian Elie Khate and appearing to hold a canister, in a still image from video taken at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 and posted on a U.S. Justice Department criminal complaint released in Washington, U.S. March 15, 2021.
DOJ | via Reuters

Sicknick and two other officers "all react, one by one, to something striking them in the face," the affidavit says. "The officers immediately retreat from the line, bring their hands to their faces and rush to find water to wash out their eyes," it says.

"All three officers were incapacitated and unable to perform their duties for at least 20 minutes or longer while they recovered from the spray," the affidavit says.

Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Bagshaw, who was equipped with a functioning body worn camera (BWC) device, sprays a person identified by the Department of Justice as Julian Elie Khate in a still image from video taken on January 6, 2021 and posted on U.S. Justice Department criminal complaint released in Washington, U.S. March 15, 2021.
DOJ | via Reuters

Sicknick died at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 due to the injuries he suffered during the riot, according to the U.S. Capitol Police. He had joined the USCP in 2008.

Both men were arrested Sunday. Khater was apprehended as he got off an airplane at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Tanios was arrested at his home in West Virginia, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Khater and Tanios both face charges including assaulting federal officers with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, violence on restricted grounds and disorderly conduct, the Justice Department said.

The most serious charges carry 20-year maximum prison sentences.

"The attack on the U.S. Capitol and on our police officers, including Brian Sicknick, was an attack on our democracy," acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement from USCP on Monday afternoon.

"Those who perpetrated these heinous crimes must be held accountable, and — let me be clear — these unlawful actions are not and will not be tolerated by this Department," Pittman said.

The statement noted that a "multi-jurisdictional investigation" into Sicknick's death is still active.

Khater and Tanios were allegedly among the thousands who stormed the Capitol or rioted outside the building, forcing a joint session of Congress to evacuate their chambers and delaying efforts to confirm President Joe Biden's electoral victory over then-President Donald Trump.

The invasion by the pro-Trump mob resulted in five deaths. More than 300 people have so far been charged in connection with the riot, and prosecutors expect more charges are forthcoming.

The arrests were first reported by The Washington Post earlier Monday morning.

CNBC's Dan Mangan contributed to this report.