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Man accused of carrying bear spray used in assault of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick to stay in jail

A man accused of carrying the bear spray used in the assault of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick during the January 6 insurrection will stay in jail for the time being, a judge decided on Monday in a court hearing that revealed for the first time video of Sicknick and others reacting to being sprayed.

The magistrate judge, Michael Aloi in Clarksburg, West Virginia, spoke at length about how the attack on the Capitol was meant to undermine democracy and how participants like defendant George Tanios had brought weapons to the pro-Trump event, then stayed to contribute to the violence rather than remain peaceful outside of the police line.

“They were there supporting a president who would not accept that he was defeated in an election,” Aloi said of the crowd. “We’ve created this culture, radicalized by hate .. to refuse to accept the result of the democratic process.”

Aloi also quoted a 1954 speech from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The real danger confronting civilization today is that atomic bomb which lies in the hearts and souls of men.”

Monday was the first time the Justice Department publicly showed videos of Sicknick and two other officers recoiling after they were allegedly sprayed by the man Tanios was with, co-defendant Julian Khater. Tanios and Khater have been indicted on 10 charges related to January 6, including for the assault and conspiracy to injure police. Their attorneys have indicated in court they are fighting the allegations. Investigators have not disclosed the cause of Sicknick’s death after he was hospitalized from the Capitol attack nor have they tied the alleged bear spray assault to his death.

In one video, Sicknick and two other officers are caught on camera being sprayed. In another, Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards reacts, saying, “I got it right in the eye,” and in a third short clip, Sicknick can be seen walking away in an area by himself.

“What did she do that day other than showing up to do her job?” Aloi said, referring to the footage of Edwards wiping bear spray out of her eyes.

About the video of Sicknick after the attack, the judge said, “It’s almost surreal … walking in solitude on the Capitol steps.”

He noted Tanios appears to have brought the bear spray in advance to the event on the National Mall. “Why would you just not turn the other way and go home?” he said. “I can’t accept anyone who will not respond to law enforcement under these circumstances other than a peaceful way.”

Tanios’ lawyers argued that the Morgantown, West Virginia, sandwich shop owner was a devoted local businessman, family member and father to three young children, and that he wasn’t dangerous and hadn’t premeditated an attack on law enforcement.

Several family members and acquaintances testified on his behalf during the hearing — with his mother weeping over a video line — while Tanios sat in the Clarksburg courtroom wearing a short-sleeved orange jail uniform.

Prosecutors revealed in court that his co-defendant Khater and the manager of a gun store in West Virginia had spoken to the FBI about Tanios, corroborating his alleged planning to gather bear and pepper spray before the pro-Trump event.

The manager in Morgantown had told the FBI that Tanios had visited the store talking about going to the January 6 rally, and asked if he could take a pepper ball gun and firearms to DC. When the store manager said no, Tanios bought two canisters of bear spray, prosecutors said during the hearing.

Tanios will be transported in custody to Washington where his and Khater’s case will be heard. His lawyer says he plans to appeal Aloi’s detention decision. Khater is still in jail.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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