WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities released videos Wednesday showing Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after defending the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, being attacked with a chemical spray as the pro-Trump mob descended on the building.
The videos were released after media outlets, including The Associated Press, went to court to demand that they be made available to the press.
The Department of Justice on Wednesday withdrew its opposition to release the videos to the media outlets.
It comes as attorneys for the two men charged in the assault on Sicknick and other officers are fighting to be released from jail while they await trial. Lawyers for George Tanios and Julian Khater told a judge during a hearing this week that the two men don’t deserve to be behind bars while they fight the case.
Prosecutors at the hearing walked back their initial statements that the substance was bear spray, saying instead they now believe it was pepper spray.
A lawyer for Tanios called two witnesses who said he was a law-abiding father and business owner who did not deserve to be behind bars. Attorney Beth Gross said her client is on video trying to dissuade Khater from using any chemical irritants.
A judge did not yet decide, and set a second hearing for early May.
Part of the footage is from police body cameras, and it slows down as Sicknick and another officer are sprayed, and they turn away holding their eyes. It shows the rioters grabbing metal barricades from the officers and breaking through, yelling and screaming.
Tanios and Khater haven’t been charged in Sicknick’s death.
The Washington medical examiner’s officer this month found that Sicnick suffered a stroke and died from natural causes.
The determination is likely to significantly inhibit the ability of federal prosecutors to bring homicide charges.
Investigators initially believed Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, based on statements collected early in the investigation, according to two people familiar with the case.
And they later thought the 42-year-old Sicknick may have ingested a chemical substance that may have contributed to his death.
The videos show officers standing guard behind metal bicycle racks as the mob carrying American flags and Trump flags chants “USA, USA!” At one point, members of the mob begin pulling on the bike racks and the officers scramble to try to stop them.
Khater is seen with his arm in the air, appearing to hold something, and then Sicknick turns away from the crowd and retreats. Another officer doubles over, holding her eyes.
Other videos show Sicknick, who was wearing a blue jacket and bike helmet, on the upper terrace after the attack.
Sicknick is seen leaning over with his hands on his knees and pouring water into his eyes.
Prosecutors say before the attack Khater told Tanios, “Give me that bear s——” and reached into Tanios’ backpack. Tanios told Khater “not yet” because it was “still early,” but Khater responded that “they just f—ing sprayed me.” Khater was then seen holding a can of chemical spray, prosecutors say.
A prosecutor said during the hearing this week that it was likely mace — not bear spray — that was sprayed at the officers.