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February 8, 2023
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Trump and 2 others sued over death of Capitol Police Officer Sicknick after Jan. 6 riot

The longtime partner of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the Jan. 6 riot, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday against former President Donald Trump and two men involved in assaulting Sicknick.

Sicknick, 42, died a day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021. Washington’s chief medical examiner ruled in April 2021 that he died of natural causes after having suffered two strokes.

The lawsuit, filed by Sicknick’s partner, Sandra Garza, cites comments from the medical examiner that “all that transpired” on Jan. 6 “played a role in his condition.”

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.Courtesy Sicknick family

The civil suit blames Trump for a barrage of lies he told about the election in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 riot and accuses him of inciting the crowd to violence.

The suit seeks $10 million from Trump and $10 million each from two men convicted in connection with Sicknick’s assault, Julian Khater and George Tanios.

“Defendant Trump intentionally riled up the crowd and directed and encouraged a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol and attack those who opposed them,” Garza’s lawyers wrote in the suit. It alleges Trump and the two other men bear responsibility for what followed.

The lawsuit says Trump’s supporters understood his call for them to show up on Jan. 6 — “Be there, will be wild!” — to be a call to violence.

Jan. 6, 2021, was the day that Congress was meeting to formally count the electoral votes affirming that Trump lost the election.

The lawsuit says that at the Jan. 6 rally, Trump “put down his final marker” by falsely saying Vice President Mike Pence could halt that vote and that Trump incited the crowd with incendiary rhetoric and by telling them to march on the Capitol.

Khater, who pleaded guilty in September, sprayed Sicknick in the face with bear spray as Sicknick and other officers were guarding the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol.

Tanios bought the bear spray Khater used and carried the irritant in his backpack, he admitted in plea agreement documents. Tanios pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in the deal, neither of which were for assault.

Both men are awaiting sentencing.

Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer since 2008 who had previously served in the New Jersey Air National Guard, collapsed at 10 p.m. on Jan. 6 and died at 9:30 p.m. the next day, the lawsuit states.

Capitol Police has said that despite the natural causes ruling, “Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”

Sicknick’s body was given the rare distinction of lying in honor in the building’s rotunda.

Attorneys listed as representing Khater and Tanios in their criminal cases did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the civil suit Thursday.

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment Thursday night.

Daniel Barnes

Daniel Barnes reports for NBC News, based in Washington.

Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.

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