Washington, DC – More than three months after U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the chief medical examiner has ruled his death was the result of natural causes.
Washington DC Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz said in a ruling released Monday that there was no evidence found at autopsy indicating Officer Sicknick suffered an allergic reaction after rioters sprayed him with chemical irritants, The Washington Post reported.
There was also no evidence of external or internal injuries to Officer Sicknick’s body, Diaz noted.
Diaz concluded the 42-year-old officer suffered two strokes after the Jan. 6 confrontation, and attributed his death the following day to natural causes.
He would not comment regarding possible preexisting medical conditions Officer Sicknick might have had, citing patient privacy laws, but confirmed that a blood clot in an artery caused the veteran officer to suffer two strokes at the base of his brain stem, The Washington Post reported.
He died from “acute brainstem and cerebellar infarcts due to acute basilar artery thrombosis,” Diaz concluded, according to CNBC.
The medical examiner did note that “all that transpired” during the riot “played a role in his condition,” The Washington Post reported.
Questions have been swirling regarding the assault on the veteran officer, with federal officials providing limited answers.
DC Acting Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Christopher Geldart defended the lengthy investigation into Officer Sicknick’s death on Monday, saying Diaz’s office “took the appropriate amount of time to evaluate all the evidence,” The Washington Post reported.
Federal investigators said 32-year-old Pennsylvania resident Julian Elie Khater and 39-year-old West Virginia resident George Pierre Tanios assaulted Officer Sicknick and two other officers with an unknown chemical spray during the violent uprising, The Washington Post reported.
They were arrested on March 14 for assaulting the officers during the Jan. 6 riot.
The video clips released by The New York Times earlier this month revealed new details about the attack and the events preceding it, including where Officer Sicknick was located at the time and how he was assaulted.
According to court documents, Officer Sicknick was one of many law enforcement officers standing behind a set of metal bicycle racks outside the Lower West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol building on the day of the riot, The Washington Post reported.
One rioter rushed forward to attack a DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) officer as Khater raised his hand up over the top of the mob and discharged a stream of liquid spray in the direction of Officer Sicknick, who immediately turned away, the video showed.
The video, which the MPD has refused to release, showed Khater spraying Officer Sicknick and two other officers, all of whom immediately stumbled backwards and covered their eyes, according to The New York Times.
The officers yelled out in pain at times after the attack.
Still images showed Officer Sicknick as he retreated from the line and attempted to flush his eyes with water, The New York Times reported.
All three officers were incapacitated and temporarily blinded for over 20 minutes as a result of being sprayed with the substance, according to charging documents.
One officer had scarring beneath her eyes for several weeks after the attack, The Washington Post reported.
The police line collapsed just five minutes after the officers were sprayed, The New York Times reported.
At least four officers were dragged into the crowd and beaten during the ensuing violent uprising, according to the paper.
Officer Sicknick texted his brother later that night to let his family know he had been “pepper-sprayed twice,” but that he was otherwise in “good shape,” ProPublica reported.
He later collapsed at his division office.
The USCP said in a press release shortly after Officer Sicknick’s death that he passed away after being “injured while physically engaging with protesters” at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6.
The department did not elaborate on the injuries he suffered, but two law enforcement officials allegedly claimed he was hit with a fire extinguisher as rioters stormed through the halls of Congress and lawmakers hid beneath their desks, The New York Times reported at the time.
Officer Sicknick was rushed to a local hospital, where his family learned he had a blood clot on his brain and had been placed on a ventilator, his brother, Craig Sicknick, told the Daily Beast.
The veteran officer remained hospitalized until his death at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, according to the USCP.
“Officer Brian D Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on duty,” the USCP said at the time, according to the Daily Mail.
On Jan. 8, The New York Times reported that two law enforcement officials said that “pro-Trump supporters…overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher…With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support.”
The paper issued an “update” to the story eight days later, stating “new information” had emerged regarding Officer Sicknick’s death “that questions the initial cause…provided by officials close to the Capitol Police.”
DC Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Chief of Communications Douglas Buchanan confirmed that Officer Sicknick was never “rushed to the hospital” from the U.S. Capitol, and said that he had returned to his division office after responding to the riot, the Daily Mail reported.
In February, federal investigators said they were struggling to build a murder case in connection with Officer Sicknick’s death.
The officer’s family said they heard from him after the riot. He said he was pepper-sprayed twice, but that he was otherwise fine, according to the paper.
As evidence against the allegations Officer Sicknick had been attacked with a fire extinguisher mounted, Democratic Impeachment Managers still pushed the narrative by citing the supposed incident as fact in pre-trial articles filed on Feb. 2, according to the Daily Mail.