WASHINGTON — One of the men charged with assaulting Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick on Jan. 6 was sentenced to over 6 years in prison on Friday.
Julian Khater, who admitted to spraying Sicknick and another officer with a chemical irritant, was sentenced to 80 months in prison with credit for 22 months of time served. His co-defendant, George Tanios, who bought the spray and handed it to Khater, was also sentenced, to time served.
Sicknick died a day after being assaulted, but prosecutors declined to charge the two men with his death.
Before handing down his sentence, Judge Thomas Hogan told Khater, “People can conclude in their own minds that the spray may have caused [Sicknick’s death] but medically they haven’t shown it.”
“I am concerned about what you did do, regardless of if you’re responsible directly for the death of Officer Sicknick,” Hogan said. “I don’t find any excuse for anyone attacking an officer, particularly in this situation, doing their duty facing overwhelming odds.”
The government had argued for a 90-month sentence for Khater, accusing him of a “cowardly” and “pre-meditated” assault on police.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gilead Light argued before Hogan that violence had already broken out at the Capitol by the time Khater arrived. “Julian Khater did not arrive at a protest in front of the Capitol,” she said. “He arrived at a riot, he arrived at a war.”
Khater told the judge, “What happened on January 6, there’s no words for it.”
“It’s extremely unfortunate and I wish I could take it all back,” Khater said. “What transpired that day is not in my nature, it’s not who I am and is most certainly a one-time thing that will never happen again.”
Khater had pleaded guilty to two felony counts of assaulting officers and faced 78-97 months in prison under the sentencing guidelines. He admitted to spraying two officers in the face with the chemical irritant: Sicknick and Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who testified before the Jan. 6 committee in its first public hearing.
Tanios pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts — entering and remaining in a restricted building and disorderly conduct in a restricted building — and faced up to 6 months behind bars under the sentencing guidelines.
As part of his sentencing, Tanios will be on probation for one year and will be required to participate in 100 hours of community service. He also will have to pay an unspecified fine — the remaining amount in the GoFundMe account he used to raise money for his legal defense. He declined to address the judge before sentencing on the advice of his lawyer.
Sicknick died of natural causes a day after the Jan. 6 attack, having suffered two strokes, but the medical examiner said that what transpired during the attack played a role in his death. Capitol Police said after the medical examiner’s finding that Sicknick “died in the Line of Duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”
Members of Sicknick’s family were present in the courtroom Friday, including his mother, Gladys; brothers, Kenneth and Craig; sister-in-law, Nicholle; and his longtime partner, Sandra Garza.
Garza filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tanios, Khater and former President Donald Trump earlier this month. The suit accuses Trump of inciting the mob to violence on Jan. 6 and seeks $10 million each from Trump, Khater and Tanios.
Sicknick’s family read their written victim impact statements in court, describing their grief and venting their anger at Tanios, Khater and the other rioters who attacked officers at the U.S. Capitol. Garza called on the judge to give both men the maximum sentence allowed, saying, “I have seen zero remorse from either defendant.”
Gladys Sicknick noted in her statement that the men had referred to themselves as “footsoldiers” in Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, saying that her son, an Air National Guard veteran, had actually served as a soldier.
“Soldiers don’t erect gallows and call for the Vice President to be hanged,” she said. “Soldiers don’t attack the seat of their own government brandishing pipes and clubs and bats. They don’t plant pipe bombs. They don’t drag a police officer into their midst, beat him senseless and tase him repeatedly while he begs for his life. And they don’t beat and blind policemen with chemicals, like you did to Brian. You attacked my son like he was an animal. You are the animal, Mr. Khater.”
Sicknick’s family also discussed the charges the two men faced, noting in their statements that neither was charged with murder. “Our laws are far more lenient than your actions were towards Brian,” said Craig Sicknick.
His brother, Kenneth echoed that sentiment in his own statement: “They may both be pleading for a lesser charge than homicide, but there is little doubt in my mind that their actions led to my brother’s death.”
Edwards gave the final victim statement, saying she’s felt survivor’s guilt after Sicknick’s death.
“I felt like the absolute worst kind of officer,” she said. “Someone who didn’t help their friend, couldn’t help their friend.”
“When I close my eyes I can still see his face, white as a sheet,” she said, adding that she would give anything to take the pain away from Sicknick’s family and their fellow officers.
The hearing room was packed on Friday with members of the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as media. Among the crowd were U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and former Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, who have been outspoken advocates for fellow officers who fought off the mob on Jan. 6.