Police officer Brian D. Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted rioters on Jan. 6 at the Capitol, the District’s chief medical examiner has ruled.
The ruling, released Monday, will make it difficult for prosecutors to pursue homicide charges in the officer’s death. Two men are accused of assaulting Sicknick by spraying a chemical irritant at him during the siege, but prosecutors have not tied that exposure to Sicknick’s death.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Francisco J. Diaz, the medical examiner, said the autopsy found no evidence the 42-year-old officer suffered an allergic reaction to chemical irritants, which Diaz said would have caused Sicknick’s throat to quickly seize. Diaz also said there was no evidence of internal or external injuries.
Diaz said Sicknick suffered two strokes at the base of the brain stem caused by a clot in an artery that supplies blood to that area of the body. Diaz said he could not comment on whether Sicknick had a preexisting medical condition, citing privacy laws.
After the riot, police and a Justice Department official attributed Sicknick’s death to his efforts to contain the riot.
Democratic House managers arguing for then-President Donald Trump’s impeachment said Sicknick was killed by rioters, citing a New York Times story that said police initially believed Sicknick had been struck with a fire extinguisher. The Times later updated the story saying there was no evidence of blunt-force trauma.