Two men charged with assaulting Capitol Police officer Sicknick with chemical spray

Katie Ramirez
March 16, 2021

Two men have been charged for using bear spray on a Capitol Police officer who later died after responding to the 6 January riot. In late February, the office said they still awaited toxicology tests. Authorities still have not yet fully answered that question, but they have fingered two of the fallen officer's accused assailants: George Pierre Tanios, 39, and Julian Elie Khater, 32.

Sicknick joined the New Jersey Air National Guard in 1997 and had been assigned to the 108th Air Refueling Wing out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Court documents said the men - described as childhood friends - were apprehended after tipsters contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and identified them in "wanted" posters released by authorities. A detention hearing was scheduled for Thursday for Tanios. Police said surveillance video and officer-worn body camera footage show clear evidence of the assault, regardless of whether those actions led to the officer's death.

The day after Sicknick died, his family issued a statement noting "many details regarding Wednesday's events and the direct causes of Brian's injuries remain unknown and our family asks the public and the press to respect our wishes in not making Brian's passing a political issue".

Tanios is allegedly heard saying, "Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet...it's still early".

Joe and Jill Biden pay their respects to Brian Sicknick, the officer fatally injured in the 6 January US Capitol riot. From there, Khater says, "they just (expletive) sprayed me".

Mr Khater was then seen holding a can of chemical spray, prosecutors allege.

Khater and Tanios are each charged with one count of conspiracy to injure an officer, three counts of assault on a federal officer with a risky weapon, one count of civil disorder, one count of physical violence on restricted grounds, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct among many other charges.

"The officers immediately retreat from the line, bring their hands to their faces and rush to find water to wash out their eyes", Palmertree wrote.

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Though Sicknick's death is not mentioned in the charges, his injuries-and those of his comrades-are.

Sicknick died at a hospital about 9:30 p.m. on January 7, one day after 139 police officers were reportedly assaulted by an angry mob Trump supporters wielding sledge hammers, baseball bats, hockey sticks, crutches and flagpoles.

The complaint said the officers were temporarily blinded and disabled by the substance and "needed medical attention and assistance from fellow officers".

The FBI said it identified Tanios through witnesses who recognized his photo, including a former business partner who also said Tanios was embroiled in a legal dispute amid allegations he had embezzled $435,000 in a prior business venture.

Khater was arrested as he got off of an airplane at Newark Airport in New Jersey.

Khater and Tanios are longtime friends, having grown up together in New Jersey, according to the court document.

Court papers refer to two anonymous witnesses, one of whom expressed being "100% sure" in identifying Khater, a former colleague, as subject 190 on the FBI's wanted list.

According to a court filing, the government is seeking to have Tanios detained.

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