WASHINGTON (CN) — The estate of the late Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick has sued former President Donald Trump in connection to U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, saying Trump incited the mob that stormed government offices in an attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Sicknick suffered a stroke on Jan. 7, 2021, and died of natural causes. He and other officers were standing guard behind metal bicycle racks as the mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
The officer's longtime partner, Sandra Garza, is represented in the 47-page federal complaint by Mark Zaid as well as by attorneys at the law firms KaiserDillon and CalebAndonian. They brought the suit in Washington after hours on Thursday, the eve of the two-year anniversary of the Capitol riot. Trump appears as a defendant alongside two men who stormed the Capitol and pleaded guilty to related crimes, Julian Khater and George Tanios.
Garza alleges that Trump’s false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft relating to the 2020 election, and his “express calls for violence at the rally” led to the violent mob attack at the Capitol.
“Out of options and out of time, Defendant Trump finally called his supporters to Washington, D.C. on the day Congress met to certify President-elect Biden’s win, telling them to 'Stop the Steal' and that the day 'will be wild,” the complaint states. “Tens of thousands of his supporters came to the District in response, including Defendants Khater and Tanios. Some, including Defendants Khater and Tanios, planned violence at the U.S. Capitol in advance; some were stirred to violence by Defendant Trump's words on that day."
Garza says Trump incited the rioting mob during his Jan. 6 speech at the Ellipse by telling the crowd that gathered for his Save America Rally to “fight like hell” and “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue ... to the Capitol.”
Tanios and Khater were among the approximately 40% of rallygoers who “did just that,” according to the complaint, which cites cellphone data analysis by The New York Times.
“After rioters broke through the police line where [Sicknick] was stationed, individuals in the mob, including Defendants Khater and Tanios, intentionally and forcibly assaulted Officer Sicknick and others,” the complaint states.
Garza says Khater incapacitated Sicknick and “left him unable to defend himself from the mob” by spraying the officer in the face with bear spray. It was the “attack by defendants Khater and Taniois and others — which defendant Trump instigated" — that directly caused Sicknick's injuries, his partner claims.
The lawsuit uses admissions from Tanios and Khater's guilty pleas against them. Tanios pleaded to assaulting officers using a dangerous weapon, bear spray, on Jan. 6 and proffered that Sicknick was among the officers he assaulted. Khater admitted in his proffer that he gave Tanios the bear spray used on Sicknick.
“Having already pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting, or impeding Officer Sicknick, Defendant Khater is liable to the Plaintiff for common-law assault for the same conduct,” according to the suit, which also alleges Tanios should be held dually-accountable for his role.
Garza alleges the three defendants are liable for the wrongful death of Sicknick because it was a direct and foreseeable consequence of Trump’s false election denial claims, his calls for violence at the rally and his encouragement of the mob that subsequently stormed the Capitol in a failed attempt to keep him in power.
“Defendant Trump knowingly and substantially assisted in the assault that was perpetrated upon Officer Sicknick,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Trump riled up the crowd and directed and encouraged the mob to attack the U.S. Capitol and perpetrate violence on those they encountered. And Defendant Trump ratified, endorsed, and encouraged this violent conduct after it began.”
Attorneys for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The estate wants a federal judge to order each of the three defendants to pay no less than $10 million in damages, as well as punitive damages to be determined at a jury trial, attorneys’ fees and costs, plus any other relief deemed proper. Sicknick was laid to rest with full honors on Feb. 3, 2021. President Biden is set to honor him and 11 others with the Presidential Citizens Medal — the nation’s second-highest civilian award — for their contributions before and during the Jan. 6 attack on Friday.
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