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Rioter who chemical sprayed Capitol Officer Sicknick sentenced to 80 months in prison

A rioter who assaulted law enforcement officers with an unknown chemical spray outside the Capitol Building during the Jan. 6 riot was sentenced to 80 months in prison Friday with credit for time served.

Julian Khater, 33, of Somerset, N.J., pleaded guilty last September to two felony counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. He's been incarcerated since March 14, 2021.

One of the officers Khater was charged with assaulting, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, died the day after the attack. Washington, D.C., Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz found that Sicknick died from natural causes after suffering multiple strokes; Diaz told the Washington Post, "all that transpired played a role in his condition."

In court Friday, Sicknick's mother, Gladys Sicknick, told Khater, "You attacked my son like he was an animal. You are the animal, Mr. Khater. ... How does it feel to be headed to jail for a bald-faced lie?"

Khater traveled to the Capitol on Jan. 6, with his now co-defendant, George Pierre Tanios of Morgantown, W.V. Tanios had purchased two cannisters of pepper spray and two cannisters of bear spray sometime before the two men arrived in D.C., the Justice Department says.

They attended former President Donald Trump's rally at the Ellipse and then marched to the Capitol building, where they joined the mob in attempting to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

As the mob pushed to enter the building, law enforcement officers attempted to keep protesters back by utilizing a bike rack as a barrier. At 2:23 p.m., rioters tried to pull the rack away from officers, which is when Khater sprayed Sicknick in the face, forcing the officer to retreat, the DOJ statement said.

It's unclear whether Khater used the bear or pepper spray, but he used the weapon on two other officers, who were also forced to retreat.

"All three officers suffered bodily injury from the pepper spray attack and were incapacitated and unable to perform their duties," the DOJ statement said.

Officer Caroline Edwards, who was sprayed at the same time as Sicknick, said he turned "ghostly pale." She went on to explain that she couldn't help him because she was temporarily blinded from the chemical spray, and as a result continues to struggle with survivor's guilt.

"Brian gave some of the very last breaths he had defending the Capitol building ... and our democracy," Edwards said Friday.

The two men were arrested in March 2021 and both pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them.

Sicknick's longtime partner Sandra Garza sued the two rioters as well as Trump for Sicknick's wrongful death. She is seeking $10 million in damages from each defendant.

Garza said at the sentencing that she has seen "zero remorse" from either Khater or Tanios.

On the two-year anniversary of the insurrection earlier this month, President Biden awarded 14 people the Presidential Citizens Medal for defending the Capitol, including posthumous awards for Sicknick and fellow Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood. Liebengood died by suicided, according to a family attorney, just a few days after defending the Capitol Building. [Copyright 2023 NPR]

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