A West Virginia man accused of assaulting Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the Jan. 6 riot, was ordered jailed pending trial after a contentious court hearing where prosecutors presented video clips showing the officer and two other colleagues being doused with chemical spray and struggling to recover.
Describing the video as “surreal” U.S. Magistrate Michael Aloi ordered George Pierre Tanios, 39, jailed pending trial.
Tanios, who is charged with Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, faces decades in prison if convicted on 10 criminal counts, including conspiring with Khater to attack officers with chemical repellent during the deadly siege. Neither suspect is charged with Sicknick’s death.
“We have created a culture radicalized by hate,” Aloi said. “There were no songs or joy and peace (on Jan. 6) – nothing but hate and anger … I understand this is a one-time event, but there are people serving life sentences for a one-time event.”
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Attorney Elizabeth Gross, representing Tanios, cast the government 10 video clips as “small limited snippets” offered to support a government “story line” and suggested that there was no evidence that Tanios intended that officers would be targeted.
“There is no doubt that there is a serious offense alleged,” Gross told the judge. “But you are hearing their story line. Is it serious? Yes. But what do we know? Not much.”
At one point, Sicknick, wearing a blue uniform jacket, is shown moving away from the chaotic police line, removing his headgear and rubbing his face and eyes in an apparent attempt to clear his vision.
Tanios’ co-defendant, Khater is seen on video discharging spray from a white can with a black top into the face of Sicknick and other officers, the video showed.
“Give me that bear (expletive),” Khater allegedly said to Tanios before obtaining spray cannisters from Tanios’ backpack.
Prosecutors said Tanios allegedly purchased the chemical repellent at a store in West Virginia the day before the assault.
Khater is seen in the video holding a canister and waving it from side to side, about five to eight feet away from three officers, including Sicknick. The videos showed each of the officer retreating after contact with the spray, as colleagues raced to their aide with water while guiding the temporarily blinded officers to safety.
Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman has described the Capitol siege and the officers’ assault as “an attack on our democracy.”
“Those who perpetrated these heinous crimes must be held accountable, and – let me be clear these unlawful actions are not and will not be tolerated by this Department,” Pittman has said.