The medical examiner in the nation’s capital released the causes of death for four people who died the day of the siege of Congress on Jan. 6, including Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a police officer in the U.S. Capitol, but the cause and manner of death for Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick has yet to be determined.
The examiner’s office said “an unprecedented incident of civil insurrection at the United States Capitol resulted in the deaths of five individuals” and Dr. Francisco J. Diaz, the chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia, issued “determinations as to the cause and manner of death for four of those individuals” on Wednesday. The office said “the cause and manner of death for Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick are pending” three months after he died.
The office told the Washington Examiner that it complies with the National Association of Medical Examiners’ standard to determine the cause and manner of death within 90 days, but “for cases that are more complex it could be longer” and so “when this information is available and the decedent’s next of kin has been notified, I will provide you with the cause and manner of death.”
The death of Babbitt, a 35 year old Air Force veteran and Trump supporter, was caused by a “gunshot wound to the left anterior shoulder” and her manner of death was ruled a “homicide.” Video shows Babbitt attempting to climb through a window into the Speaker’s Lobby, when she was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer. The medical examiner’s office noted that a “homicide” is when a “death results from the intentional harm of one person by another.” Not all homicides are murders, though it has not been publicly revealed whether investigators have concluded the shooting was justified.
Both 55-year-old Kevin Greeson and 50-year-old Benjamin Phillips were determined to have died from “hpertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease” — a heart problem — and the manner of death was deemed “natural.” The case of death for 34-year-old Roseanne Boyland was “acute amphetamine intoxication” — drug use — and the death was “accidental.”
The Capitol Police announced Sicknick, a 42-year-old who joined the agency in 2008, died on Jan. 7, one day after rioters broke into the Capitol as lawmakers counted electoral votes to affirm now-President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump.
“Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries,” the Capitol Police said. No murder charges have been filed, and it is unclear if any will be.
FBI Director Christopher Wray repeatedly declined to provide details related to the death of Sicknick during Senate testimony in March, but he assured senators that that the FBI is working hard to investigate.
Julian Elie Khater and George Pierre Tanios were charged in March with assaulting Sicknick and two other officers with a chemical spray, although the men were not accused of murdering Sicknick.
In February, the New York Times quietly updated a report about the Capitol riot, headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.” It now says that “new information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol Police.” A Democratic pretrial impeachment memo cited the New York Times’s reporting, saying, “The insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”
Sicknick’s eldest brother, Ken Sicknick, told ProPublica that Brian Sicknick had texted the family hours after the siege to say he was pepper-sprayed but doing fine.
“He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape,” Ken Sicknick recounted.
“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,” Ken Sicknick told Fox News a couple of days after his brother’s death. Sicknick’s mother, Gladys, said in February that she was still waiting to hear more about her son’s death. She told the Daily Mail she thinks he might have suffered a stroke.
Now-former U.S. attorney Michael Sherwin said in January that “specialized teams” were investigating the deaths of Sicknick and Babbitt.
It was reported by the Wall Street Journal in February that “investigators have made a preliminary determination that the police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the U.S. Capitol riot shouldn’t be charged with any crimes in connection with her death.” NBC News and other outlets soon ran similar stories also citing anonymous sources.
Mark Schamel, an attorney for the officer, claimed in February that “there’s no way to look at the evidence and think he’s anything but a hero.” The officer who shot Babbitt has not yet been publicly identified.
Sean Hickman of the Metropolitan Police Department’s public information office told the Washington Examiner in February that “it is irresponsible to make an investigatory assumption or to jump to any conclusion without completing the thorough investigation.” On Wednesday he added that “there are no updates at this time.”
The identity of the person who planted pipe bombs outside the offices of the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee the night before the Capitol riot also remains unknown.
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