$10M lawsuit says Trump pushed NJ men to attack Capitol on Jan. 6
⚫ Officer Brian Sicknick died after defending the Capitol on Jan. 6
⚫ His girlfriend's lawsuit seeks to hold Trump accountable in court
⚫ Her lawsuit lays out evidence tying the actions of NJ insurrectionists to the president's words
Two years later, a $10 million lawsuit has been filed against former President Donald Trump and two men accused of attacking New Jersey native and Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Sicknick died a day later.
Sicknick’s longtime girlfriend, Sandra Garza, filed the suit saying Trump "intentionally riled up the crowd and directed and encouraged a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol and attack those who opposed him."
"Injuries sustained by Officer Sicknick and his eventual death, were reasonable and foreseeable consequences of Defendant Trump’s words and conduct," according to the wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday.
Julian Khater and George Tanios, both New Jersey natives, also were named as co-defendants in the suit. They each faced charges for a bear spray assault on Sicknick, after which the South River native suffered a series of fatal strokes.
⚫ Holding Trump accountable for Jan. 6
While defenders of Trump have sought to minimize what happened on Jan. 6, the president was impeached in January 2021 for the second time in his term on a charge of "incitement of insurrection."
Despite the impeachment vote in the House garnering 10 votes from the Republicans — the largest number ever to vote against a president of their own party — he was acquitted by the GOP-controlled Senate.
In 2021, a House committee convened to investigate Jan. 6 and last month took the historic step of referring a former president to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.
The committee, which included two Republican members who had voted for impeachment, concluded that Trump incited insurrection, engaged in conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstructed Congress.
Khater pleaded guilty late last year to two counts of assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon.
Tanios, now a West Virginia resident, was initially charged in the attack on Sicknick, but last summer pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors: entering restricted grounds and disorderly conduct.
A medical examiner in April 2021 confirmed that Sicknick had died of natural causes.
Capitol Police said in a statement that while it accepted those findings, “This does not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol. The Department continues to mourn the loss of our beloved colleague. The attack on our officers, including Brian, was an attack on our democracy.”
The lawsuit filed Thursday said the same Medical Examiner "further stated that 'all that transpired on [January 6] played a role in his condition' that led to his death."
⚫ Trump's 'call to action'
The 47-page lawsuit includes multiple tweets issued by Trump, with claims of widespread fraud and election-rigging that the suit said were "rebuked by numerous executive agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security."
It also includes screenshots of social media users inciting Jan. 6 violence based on what was called Trump's "marching orders."
"Defendant Trump put out a clear call to action, and the crowd — including Defendants Khater and Tanios — responded," the suit says.
Police announced the U.S. Capitol had been breached and was on full lockdown by 2:20 p.m. that day. The lawsuit says that around that same time, Khater and Tanios were engaged in a confrontation with law-enforcement officers, including Officer Sicknick, at the Lower West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol.
From less than 8 feet away, Khater sprayed Sicknick in the face with the bear spray that Tanios had brought with them.
Around 10 p.m. that night, Sicknick collapsed and was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. Within 24 hours he died, according to the lawsuit.
⚫ Posthumous honors for Sicknick
Sicknick’s parents and two brothers are not involved in the federal lawsuit, they confirmed to NorthJersey.com.
“He and his fellow officers fought for hours and hours against those animals who were trying to take over the Capitol Building and our Democracy, as we know it,” Gladys Sicknick, of South River, previously said in a written statement referring to her late son in May 2021.
In December, Sicknick was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism.
On Friday, Sicknick also was among 12 individuals awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Joe Biden.
Southern Poverty Law Center tweeted of the ceremony on Friday: “Receiving the Presidential Citizens Medal today are 12 individuals who were instrumental in defending the U.S. Capitol during the #Jan6, 2021, insurrection and protecting our democracy and the will of American voters in the 2020 presidential election.”
The Sicknick family and Garza were in Washington D.C. as NJ congressional delegates helped commemorate two years since the violent revolt of Trump supporters.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, took to Twitter to share a photo from the Capitol steps on Friday.
“I joined my colleagues on the steps of the Capitol today to recognize the bravery of the heroic officers who responded on January 6 and to honor the memory of those lost, including Officer Brian Sicknick, who was from Middlesex County,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th District, shared a different photo, tweeting: “Two years ago today, American democracy was attacked. We owe its survival to our law enforcement heroes. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a #NJ12 native, lost his life that day. The Sicknick family is in my prayers as they are forced to relive that trauma.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said: “The insurrectionists attacked law enforcement officers, including fallen hero and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick, and desecrated the halls of Congress, demonstrating contempt for the rule of law and democracy itself.”
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted: “What was clear on day one, especially to those of us in the building, was the bravery of our Capitol and DC Metropolitan police officers. That is a debt I can never fully repay. Thinking of fallen Capitol Police officer, and New Jerseyan, Brian Sicknick and his loved ones today.”
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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