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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Capitol rioter who pepper-sprayed officer Sicknick sentenced to prison

Julian Khater and George Tanios both pleaded guilty and faced late Friday afternoon sentencing hearings.

WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge ordered a nearly seven-year prison sentence Friday for a Capitol rioter who deployed chemical spray against law enforcement officers, one of whom died the next day after suffering two strokes.  

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, a Ronald Reagan appointee, handed down a sentence of six years and eight months to Julian Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania. Khater pleaded guilty last August to deploying pepper spray against three law enforcement officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. He will receive credit for the 22 months he has already served but will also have to pay a $10,000 fine, the judge said. 

Khater said during his sentencing hearing that his actions that day were a "one time thing that will never happen again."  

His co-defendant, George Tanios, a 42-year-old sandwich shop owner from Morgantown, West Virginia, refrained from addressing the court under advisement from his attorney and received a sentence of time-served, namely, the five months he already spent in pre-trial detention, as well as one year of probation and 100 hours of community service. Tanios was also ordered to pay a legal fine of whatever remains in the GoFundMe account he created to fund his legal defense. 

Both men were arrested in March 2021 after authorities said they worked together to spray a chemical irritant in the face and eyes of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick and two other law enforcement officers, Metropolitan Police Department officer Damian Chapman and Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards. The men are not alleged to have caused Sicknick’s death. 

Edwards spoke at the sentencing hearing Friday, telling the judge that she recalls Sicknick’s face was “ghostly pale and in pain” after being hit with the spray. She said she wanted to help him but was unable because she too was hit with spray and has since suffered from survivor’s guilt. 

“When I close my eyes, I can still see his face, white as a sheet,” she said. 

The scabbing on her eyes caused by the chemical spray in the days after Jan. 6, she said, served as a reminder that she could not help Sicknick. 

“I felt like the absolute worst kind of officer,” Edwards said, “someone who didn’t help their friend, couldn’t help their friend.” 

Several members of Sicknick’s family also gave victim impact statements, including his mother, and his sibling, Kenneth Sicknick, who said, “whatever sentence is administered, it will not be enough.” 

Craig Sicknick, the fallen officer’s eldest brother, echoed that sentiment. “Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of your actions,” he said, addressing the defendants. 

“I wish I was not in the same room as you,” he added, “as your presence makes me sick.” 

Craig’s wife, Nicole Sicknick, spoke through tears about how “there was once joy, comfort and laughter” within their family. 

“The defendants snuffed all that out with a spray can of chemicals,” she said.  

Khater pleaded guilty last August to two counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon. Tanios pleaded guilty one month prior to the lesser misdemeanor charge of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. 

They are among approximately 950 people who have been charged so far with Capitol riot-related crimes. As of Jan. 6, about 364 people had pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, and about 119 had pleaded guilty to felonies. Approximately 192 people have been sentenced to prison time.   

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Categories / Criminal, Government, Politics

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