Law & the Courts

Officer Brian Sicknick Died of Natural Causes after Capitol Riot, Medical Examiner Says

Police pay their respects to Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick as he lies in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., February 3, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/Reuters)

Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes a day after supporters of President Trump rioted at the Capitol on January 6, the chief medical examiner for Washington, D.C., told the Washington Post on Monday.

Francisco J. Diaz, the examiner, said Sicknick died after suffering two strokes the day after the riot, caused by a blood clot that prevented flow to the base of Sicknick’s brain stem. Diaz added that “all that transpired” during the Capitol riot “played a role in his condition.”

Two rioters are charged with attacking Sicknick with a chemical irritant. Diaz’s determination that Sicknick died of natural causes will likely hamper prosecutors’ efforts to charge the two rioters with homicide.

The medical examiner’s office “took the appropriate amount of time to evaluate all the evidence,” acting deputy mayor for public safety Christopher Geldhart told the Post. Geldhart added that Diaz “felt he was able to make this call in good conscience.”

Sicknick joined the Capitol Police in 2008, and was honored at the Capitol following his death. Police said that Sicknick collapsed after he returned to his office in the wake of the riot.

Conflicting reports emerged of the circumstances of Sicknick’s death. Then-acting U.S. attorney general Jeffrey Rosen said on January 8 that Sicknick died of “the injuries he suffered defending the U.S. Capitol.” Law enforcement officials initially told the New York Times that rioters hit Sicknick with a fire extinguisher, however weeks later police investigators and medical examiners could not agree on a cause of death.

The Capitol Police released a statement saying the department “accepts the findings” of the medical examiner that “Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes. This does not change the fact that Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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