WASHINGTON — Exactly one month since rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s official cause of death has not been released and no one has been charged with his death.
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert J. Contee III confirmed at a news conference Thursday that the investigation into Sicknick’s death is ongoing, stressing that police continue to comb through video evidence, in the latest update provided by authorities.
Contee, speaking vaguely, also suggested Sicknick’s injuries may not have been immediately visible. “That determination is made by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, so MPD’s role in that is to make sure that the medical examiner has all of the evidence they need to make that determination,” he said. “In this situation, with the Capitol insurrection, there were hundreds of videos and all of that kind of stuff — that stuff is being gone through and funneled over to them.”
Contee said the medical examiner’s office will make a recommendation, “once they have a better understanding of what exactly to deal with,” adding that, “sometimes, and not to speak for the doctors, when they are assessing individuals who may not have visible injuries — that kind of thing — you know they have to be very thorough in their efforts to make a determination in manner and cause of death.”
Exactly how Sicknick died still remains a mystery to the public, as an official cause of death has not been released, Fox News reported.
As the autopsy results remain pending, investigators are also weighing the possibility that Sicknick could have died from exposure to a chemical irritant, such as bear mace or pepper spray. It also remains unclear whether Sicknick had any pre-existing conditions.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Washington, D.C., told Fox News Thursday that its medical examiners “comply with the National Association of Medical Examiners’ (NAME) standard to determine the cause and manner of death within 90 days; however, for cases that are more complex it could be longer.”
“Therefore, when this information is available and the decedent’s next of kin has been notified, I will only provide you with the cause and manner of death,” special assistant to Chief Medical Examiner Cheryle E. Adams said Thursday, without providing specifics.
In the only public statement issued by U.S. Capitol Police describing the circumstances surrounding his death, the department said Sicknick “passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty.” He died at the hospital at approximately 9:30 p.m. the evening of Jan. 7.
Sicknick “was responding to the riots” on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol and “was injured while physically engaging with protesters,” the statement said. “He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.”
His eldest brother, Ken Sicknick, told ProPublica in an interview published Jan. 8 that Sicknick had texted him on the night of Jan. 6 to tell him he had been pepper-sprayed but felt fine. He told the outlet his brother was dead by the next night, after suffering a stroke.
“He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape,” Ken Sicknick told the outlet over the phone, as the family drove toward Washington, D.C., from New Jersey. “Apparently he collapsed in the Capitol and they resuscitated him using CPR.”
The family later received word that Brian Sicknick had a blood clot and suffered a stroke. As a result, a ventilator was keeping him alive, Ken Sicknick told ProPublica.
A retired firefighter was caught on camera throwing a fire extinguisher that hit at least three officers during the riot. As a result, he was arrested January 14, Law Officer reported.
Robert Sanford, of Chester, Pa., faces three federal felony charges including assaulting a police officer. Many people concluded Sicknick was one of the officers struck by the fire extinguisher. However, the only one identified in charging documents was Officer William Young.
Young was evaluated at a hospital and cleared to return to duty, according to court papers.
Lawmakers paid tribute to Sicknick earlier this week as his remains lied in honor in the Capitol Rotunda before a ceremonial send-off on the steps to Arlington National Cemetery, where he was interred Wednesday.