A New Jersey man who was at the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced on Friday to 80 months in prison for his attacks using a canister of pepper spray on Capitol police officers.
One of the officers, Brian Sicknick, died a day after the Capitol breach.
Court documents showed that Julian Khater, 33, had sprayed Sicknick and two other officers with pepper spray. Khater pleaded guilty in September 2022 to two felony counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon.
Sicknick’s death was ultimately determined to be due to natural causes after he suffered two strokes near the base of his brain stem.
However, prosecutors noted that the medical examiner acknowledged that “all that transpired” in the events of Jan. 6 “played a role in his condition.”
Dozens of police officers filled the courtroom gallery, with many others watching the proceedings on a television in an overflow courtroom. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement that they will “never forget Officer Sicknick’s bravery, nor his dedication to our country,” adding that Sicknick “died an American hero and he will forever be remembered as one.”
The New Jersey Devils honor slain Capitol police officer and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick before the game between the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins during the home opening game at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Jan. 14, 2021. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Khater wasn’t charged in the officer’s death. Defense attorney Chad Seigel said the medical examiner’s autopsy confirmed that Khater didn’t directly or indirectly cause the officer’s death.
“If there was any evidence to the contrary, they would have charged him,” Seigel said.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan, who handed the sentence, gave Khater credit for the nearly two years he has served in pretrial detention. Hogan ordered 36 months of supervised release and ordered Khater to pay restitution of $2,000 and a fine of $10,000.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Khater had traveled to Washington with another man, George Tanios, 41, of West Virginia.
George Tanios in an undated file photograph. (FBI via The Epoch Times)
According to the Department of Justice, Tanios bought two cans of bear spray and two cans of pepper spray and gave Khater one can of pepper spray prior to arriving in Washington.
Both Khater and Tanios were arrested on March 14, 2021.
Tanios in July 2022 pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, a misdemeanor.
Hogan sentenced Tanios on Friday to the jail time he already served, with conditions. Tanios was ordered to complete 12 months of supervised release, serve 100 hours of community service, and pay restitution of $500 and a fine of $100.
Court documents said that after Khater sprayed Sicknick in the face, the officer turned his head away and retreated from the police line. The assault occurred amid a struggle between a group of people trying to breach a bike rack barrier in the afternoon around 2:30 p.m. as a line of police officers tried to secure the Capitol grounds.
In this image from video, a man identified by authorities as Julian Khater, center right, sprays a chemical towards law enforcement officers in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (FBI)
After having hit Sicknick with pepper spray, Khater sprayed another Capitol police officer, Caroline Edwards, from “only a few feet away,” according to the DOJ.
“She dropped her head and retreated, requiring the assistance of another officer because she was unable to see,” the DOJ stated.
Khater also sprayed a Metropolitan Police Department police officer, identified in court documents as “Officer D.C.” directly in the face. The officer also immediately retreated from the police line.
“All three officers suffered bodily injury from the pepper spray attack and were incapacitated and unable to perform their duties,” according to the DOJ.
The joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, was temporarily interrupted when a sizable group of protesters entered the Capitol building and its surrounds.
A large group of protesters stands on the East steps of the Capitol Building after breaching its grounds in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images) People attend the Save America rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Mark Zou/The Epoch Times)
Outside were thousands of other mostly peaceful protesters who had gathered in Washington on the day to express their concerns about election integrity.
Amid the mayhem that took place that day on Capitol grounds and inside the building itself, four Americans died on the day—Trump supporters Ashli Babbitt, Rosanne Boyland, Kevin Greeson, and Benjamin Phillips.
Babbitt’s death was ruled a homicide. Paul Sperry and RealClearInvestigations, in late 2021, identified U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Lt. Michael Byrd as the person who shot Babbitt.
The deaths of Greeson and Phillips were officially determined to be due to natural causes. But independent journalist Tayler Hansen, who was wearing press credentials while among the crowd that day, alleged that the two men “both suffered fatal heart attacks from the munitions being thrown” by the Capitol Police. Hansen previously published a video showing some explosive munitions that went off in the crowd and the resultant panic on the day.
Meanwhile, Boyland’s death was ruled as an accident, but a video unsealed in December 2021 showed that she was struck repeatedly by one police officer as she lay unconscious near the Capitol building.
More than 950 individuals have been dealt charges by the Department of Justice, accusing them of having committed federal crimes on Jan. 6, 2021. Of those charged, more than 284 people were charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.
The investigation remains ongoing as dozens of Americans continue to be held in prison without trial.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.