The FBI recently obtained new video of an individual spraying what appears to be a chemical irritant at more than a dozen law enforcement officers, including a Capitol Police officer who fell ill shortly after the storming of the Capitol and died at a hospital the next day, a law enforcement official said.
The video, first reported by the New York Times, has not yet led to charges directly related to the death of the officer, Brian Sicknick. An official who asked not to be named confirmed the development to POLITICO Friday night.
While the video seems likely to aid in the identification of the suspect and may lead to charges such as assault on a police officer with a dangerous weapon, it is unclear whether the new evidence will allow prosecutors to charge someone with Sicknick’s death. That would require prosecutors to prove some causal link between the actions of rioters and the 42-year-old officer’s death.
Despite the lingering uncertainty, Sicknick’s death has become a symbol of the extreme violence of the Jan. 6 riots. House Democrats cited it repeatedly during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump earlier this month, and President Joe Biden paid respects to Sicknick, who laid in honor at the Capitol.
More than 100 other Capitol and Washington, D.C., police officers were injured during the riots, some severely, and two reportedly died by suicide in the days following the insurrection. Four rioters also died, including one shot by an officer defending the House chamber.
For nearly two months, Capitol Police has declined to provide details of the circumstances of Sicknick’s death. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers Thursday that she considered it a “line-of-duty” death but said nothing else about the circumstances.
A Capitol Police statement Friday suggested further action regarding Sicknick would have to await details on his cause of death.
“The medical examiner’s report on Officer Brian Sicknick’s death, which followed the attack on the Capitol on January 6, is not yet complete,” the agency told CNN. “We are awaiting toxicology results and continue to work with other government agencies regarding the death investigation.”
Sicknick died at 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, Capitol Police revealed in a statement that night, describing him as “injured while physically engaging with protesters.”
“He returned to his division office and collapsed,” the agency said at the time. “He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.”
Prosecutors and Capitol Police officials have indicated that numerous participants in the Jan. 6 riot deployed pepper spray, bear spray, mace and other chemical irritants at police. One Capitol Police Captain, Carneysha Mendoza, told a Senate committee Tuesday that she observed protesters deploy “military-grade CS” gas inside the Capitol itself.
On Friday, court officials unsealed a criminal case against a suspect, Daniel Caldwell of Texas, who claimed in a video recorded on Jan. 6 to have sprayed officers during a confrontation on the steps of the Capitol.
“According to Caldwell, once the officers sprayed him, Caldwell sprayed toward police officer [sic] and believed he sprayed around 15 officers,” according to the FBI affidavit supporting the case.
The FBI submission, dated Feb. 8, also included screenshots of publicly posted videos showing a man believed to be Caldwell spraying in the direction of Capitol officers.