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Capitol officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes day after January riots, medical examiner says

He was injured while confronting rioters on Jan. 6 and died the following day after suffering from a stroke, the Washington, D.C., medical examiner's office ruled.

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Above video from February: Capitol Hill ceremony held for Officer Sicknick

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was injured while confronting rioters during the Jan. 6 insurrection, suffered a stroke and died from natural causes, the Washington, D.C., medical examiner's office ruled Monday, a finding that lessens the chances that anyone will be charged in his death.

Investigators initially believed the officer was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, based on statements collected early in the investigation, according to two people familiar with the case. And they later thought the 42-year-old Sicknick may have ingested a chemical substance — possibly bear spray — that may have contributed to his death.

But the determination of a natural cause of death means the medical examiner found that a medical condition alone caused his death — it was not brought on by an injury. The determination is likely to significantly inhibit the ability of federal prosecutors to bring homicide charges in Sicknick's death.

Federal prosecutors have charged two men with using bear spray on Sicknick during the Jan. 6 riot. The arrests of George Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, and Julian Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, were the closest federal prosecutors have come to identifying and charging anyone associated with the five deaths that happened during and after the riot.

Lawyers for the two men had no immediate comment Monday.

Sicknick died after defending the Capitol against the mob that stormed the building as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden's electoral win over Donald Trump. It came after Trump urged his supporters to "fight like hell" to overturn his defeat.

Sicknick was standing guard with other officers behind metal bicycle racks as the mob descended on the Capitol.

This undated image provided by the United States Capitol Police shows U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, of injuries sustained during the riot at the Capitol. A native of South River, N.J., Sicknick served in the New Jersey Air National Guard and went on to a law enforcement career, which his family said was his lifelong dream. He joined the Capitol Police in 2008.
United States Capitol Police via AP
This undated image provided by the United States Capitol Police shows U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.

"Give me that bear (expletive)," Khater said before he reached into Tanios' backpack, according to court papers. Tanios told Khater "not yet" because it was "still early," but Khater responded that "they just f---ing sprayed me." Khater was then seen holding a can of chemical spray, prosecutors say.

As the rioters began pulling on one of the racks, Khater was seen with his arm in the air and the canister in his hand while standing just 5 to 8 feet from the officers, authorities said.

In February, Sicknick became only the fifth person in history to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, a designation for those who are not elected officials, judges or military leaders. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.