Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes after battling rioters, a medical examiner has ruled.
But Francisco J Diaz noted that Officer Sicknick was among the Capitol Police detachment attacked by pro-Trump rioters in violent scenes on 6 January and that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.”
Investigators had focussed in on the chemical irritant that protesters allegedly used on Officer Sicknick and his colleagues, as the crowd tried to force their way into the Capitol to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
Two men are currently accused of assaulting Officer Sicknick by spraying a powerful chemical irritant at him during the mayhem, and it is unclear how the medical examiner’s determination will impact any prosecution.
Mr Diaz’s report says that Officer Sicknick suffered two strokes at the base of the brain stem caused by a clot in the artery that supplies the area with blood, according to The Washington Post.
Officer Sicknick, who had been on the force since 2008, collapsed at his office after returning there after the riot, and was rushed to hospital where he later died.
The Capitol Police said at the time that the officer “was injured while physically engaging with protesters.”
Authorities arrested two men in March and accused them of assaulting Officer Sicknick with chemical spray during the violence. No charges have been filed related to Sicknick’s death.
Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, grew up together in New Jersey, said officials.
Court documents stated that the two men engaged with police officers, including Officer Sicknick, on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace.
And the court papers add that Mr Khater was caught on video telling Mr Tanios to “give me that bear sh**.”
Prosecutors say that Mr Khater is seen on the video discharging a canister of a toxic substance into the face of Sicknick and two other officers.
Officer Sicknick was honoured in a ceremony at the Capitol in February, that was attended by Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden.
The US Capitol Police said in a statement that Officer Sicknick had died “courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”
“The USCP accepts the findings from the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner that Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes. This does not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol,” the statement read.
“The Department continues to mourn the loss of our beloved colleague. The attack on our officers, including Brian, was an attack on our democracy.”