January 9, 2023
The estate of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day after defending the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, sued Donald Trump on Thursday, January 5—alleging that the officer’s death resulted from the former president’s “incendiary” rhetoric and false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, reports The Wall Street Journal.
In a 47-page lawsuit, lawyers for Sicknick’s estate said Trump “intentionally riled up the crowd and directed and encouraged a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol and attack those who opposed him.” The lawsuit cited Trump’s speech at the Ellipse earlier that day, in which he urged a crowd of supporters to “fight like hell” and march to the Capitol.
“As a direct and foreseeable consequence of Defendant Trump’s false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to Defendant Trump’s express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also names as defendants two men convicted in connection with the Capitol attack: Julian Elie Khater, who admitted last year to deploying a chemical spray against Sicknick and other officers; and George Pierre Tanios, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from the Capitol attack. Khater and Tanios are to be sentenced on January 27, court records show. Prosecutors didn’t link their actions specifically to Sicknick’s death.
A spokesperson for the former president said that, at the time of the attack on the Capitol, Trump urged the protesters to “peacefully and patriotically make their voices heard,’” and said that “Big Tech companies unilaterally censored and suppressed his calls for peace and should thus be held accountable for their appalling actions.” Trump was “immune from frivolous attacks,” the spokesperson said.
A lawyer for Khater, Chad Seigel, declined to comment. Lawyers for Tanios didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lawyers for Sicknick’s estate are seeking damages of at least $10 million for alleged wrongful death and conspiracy to violate civil rights from all the defendants; as well as claims for aiding and abetting an assault from Trump and for assault from Khater and Tanios.
“The horrific events of January 6, 2021, including Officer Sicknick’s tragic, wrongful death, were a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ unlawful actions,” the lawsuit said, referring to Trump, Khater, and Tanios. “As such, the Defendants are responsible for the injury and destruction that followed.”
In April 2021, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Washington. D.C., determined that Sicknick died of a stroke and ruled the manner of his death as natural, using a term it said applied if “disease alone causes death.” The office said that if a death is “hastened by an injury,” it wouldn’t consider the manner of death to be natural.
In response to that determination, the Capitol Police at the time issued a statement saying, “This does not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”
The lawsuit comes on the eve of the second anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, in which one protester was shot and killed by police and three others died due to medical emergencies.
On Friday, President Joe Biden is expected to mark the anniversary by honoring Sicknick posthumously with the Presidential Citizens Medal, as well as several other officers of the Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police.
Research contact: @WSJ