Wednesday 27 January 2021
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Capitol police officer dies after engaging rioters

Brian D Sicknick is the sixth US Capitol Police officer to die in the line of duty, and the fourth to be a victim of an attack at the Capitol

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Politics World Capitol police officer dies after engaging rioters

A 42-year-old US Capitol Police officer, injured in the midst of yesterday’s takeover of the Capitol has died. According to a statement from his department, the officer was Brian D Sicknick, the youngest of three brothers who grew up in South River, NJ.

The Capitol Police said in the statement that Sicknick had been injured “while physically engaging with protesters”. He collapsed after returning to his division office. He was rushed to a hospital where officials said he died at 9:30 PM, Thursday (EST, GMT-5).

Police did not provide details of how Sicknick had been injured. Information on the cause of this death is pending. The department will consider it a line-of-duty death. The DC police department’s homicide unit is investigating the death.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A Rosen expressed condolences for Sicknick’s family. He said that the officer had died of “the injuries he suffered defending the US Capitol, against the violent mob who stormed it on January 6.” Rosen said that the FBI and DC police would “jointly investigate the case and the Department of Justice will spare no resources in investigating and holding accountable those responsible.”

In a statement, Sicknick’s family said, “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… Brian is a hero and that is what we would like people to remember.”

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California) ordered flags at the US Capitol to be flown at half-staff. “The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation’s history. But because of the heroism of our first responders and the determination of the Congress, we were not, and we will never be, diverted from our duty to the Constitution and the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Ken Sicknick, a brother of Sicknick, said in the statement issued by the family that his older sibling had wanted to be a police officer his entire life. He said Brian had joined the New Jersey Air National Guard “as a means to that end”.

Ken Sicknick said his brother, a staff sergeant, had been assigned to the 108th Air Refuelling Wing out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

The New Jersey National Guard said it “was saddened by the loss”. It said Sicknick had joined in 1997 and had been deployed to Saudia Arabia in 1999 in support of Operation Southern Watch and in Kyrgyzstan in 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. “Staff Sgt. Sicknick’s commitment to service and to protect his community, state, and nation will never be forgotten,” the New Jersey National Guard said.

Sicknick had joined the Capitol Police force in 2008. Most recently, he served in the first responders unit.

“The entire USCP Department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague,” according to a statement from Capitol police.

Michael Ricci, a former staffer to House Speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner, said Sicknick was one of a half-dozen officers he saw every day as he arrived to work at the South door entrance of the Capitol building. “He was a good officer, but also very personable,” said Ricci, who now serves as Gov. Larry Hogan’s spokesman. “He was just what you’d want at that door with so many people coming through.”

Recalling Sicknick’s sense of humour, Ricci said, “He was funny.” He said. “Some officer, I recall, would be having political or sports debates… and he was a bit of a ball buster.”

6th US Capitol Police officer to die in line of duty

Sicknick is the sixth US Capitol Police officer to die in the line of duty, and the fourth to be a victim of an attack at the Capitol, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

The first Capitol Police officer killed in modern times was Private Fred J Crenshaw. He was involved in the arrest of several men suspected of recent robberies on the Capitol grounds on 27 June 1948. While he was walking one of the men to the police guardhouse at the Senate Office Building for questioning, the man suddenly pulled a pistol and shot Crenshaw twice, according to the memorial page.

One of the bullets lodged near Crenshaw’s spine, and he never fully recovered. Crenshaw died from complications of the gunshot wound on 5 January 1952, at age 69. A court convicted his assailant of assault with intent to kill. Crenshaw had been a Capitol Police officer for two years.

The most notorious attack on Capitol Police occurred on 24 July 1998, when Russell E Weston Jr walked into a public entrance of the Capitol and opened fire after passing through the metal detector. Officer Jacob J Chestnut, 58, who had been writing directions for two tourists, was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range. When Weston then entered Republican Tom DeLay’s office, Detective John M Gibson, 42, exchanged fire with Weston and was mortally wounded. Weston was struck four times and was resuscitated by Sen Bill Frist, a heart surgeon.

Both Chestnut and Gibson had served 18 years on the Capitol Police force. The door where Weston entered has been renamed the Chestnut-Gibson Memorial Door. Chestnut, a Vietnam War veteran, was the first African American to lie in honor in the Capitol. Weston was charged with two counts of murder, but was found mentally incompetent to stand trial and has remained in federal custody ever since.

Two other Capitol Police officers died while on duty, but not as a result of criminal activity. Sgt Christopher S Eney, 37, was involved in a SWAT training exercise on 24 August 1984, when he was inadvertently shot and killed by another officer. Officers had been using blank rounds during the exercise, but then reloaded their weapons and Eney was shot in the back. He had spent 12 years as a Capitol Police officer.

Sgt Clinton J Holtz, 44, was in his office working on paperwork related to sexual assault investigation when he suffered a heart attack and died on 17 January 2014. He had served 11 years on the Capitol Police force.

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