Julian Khater convicted of assaulting Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick
WASHINGTON — A New Jersey man who joined a mob attack on the US Capitol was sentenced Friday to more than six years in prison for pepper-spraying police officers, one of whom died a day after the siege.
Julian Khater made no mention of the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, nor did he address the officer’s family, in a written statement he read before U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan sentenced him to six years and eight months in prison.
A coroner concluded that Sicknick, 42, suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he and other officers tried to hold off the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Hogan said Sicknick’s death was the “elephant in the room,” but stressed that the coroner’s report gave him no basis for using that as a sentencing factor against him. However, the judge found that Khater did not apologize to the officers he assaulted or expressed sorrow at hurting them.
“At some point we lost that sense of responsibility,” Hogan said.
Khater responded that he changed his prepared statement on the advice of his lawyer in court after he was recently named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit over his actions on January 6.
“I wanted to apologize to everyone,” he said.
The judge recognized Khater’s almost two-year pre-trial detention. Hogan also ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine.
Khater’s friend and co-defendant George Tanios pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly and disruptive conduct. Hogan was also scheduled to sentence Tanios, 41, of Morgantown, West Virginia, on Friday.
Dozens of police officers filled the courtroom gallery, and many others watched the proceedings on television in a crowded courtroom.
Tanios and Khater were not charged in Sicknick’s death, but the officer’s relatives believe they are responsible. Sicknick’s mother, two brothers, a sister-in-law and his longtime girlfriend appealed to the judge in court before he handed down the sentences.
“Your selfish actions have caused more pain than you could ever have imagined,” said an older brother, Craig Sicknick. “My family is a wreck and none of us came anywhere near unscathed by your actions that day.”
Gladys Sicknick, the officer’s mother, told Khater he was “at the center of our recurring nightmare”.
“You attacked my son like he was an animal. You are the animal, Mr. Khater,” she said.
Federal prosecutors had recommended a sentence of seven years and six months in prison for Khater, 34, of Somerset, New Jersey.
The Washington Coroner’s Office determined in April 2021 that Sicknick died of natural causes after suffering two strokes near the base of his brainstem. The coroner also found that Sicknick had been dealing with rioters on Jan. 6 and that “everything that transpired played a role in his condition,” according to prosecutors.
Defense attorney Chad Seigel said the coroner’s autopsy confirmed that Khater did not directly or indirectly cause the officer’s death.
“If there was any evidence to the contrary, they would have charged him,” Seigel said.
Prosecutors said Sicknick’s “tragic death, so shortly before the traumatic events of that day, underscores the seriousness of the crimes committed by Khater and his associates.”
“The death of Officer Sicknick should serve as a solemn reminder to Khater and all the rioters who committed acts of violence against police officers that day that their actions contributed to immense trauma, stress and suffering for all officers who were physically assaulted in the Capitol ‘ they wrote in a court filing.
Khater drove from New Jersey to West Virginia to pick up Tanios before driving to the Washington area on January 5. The next morning, they took a ride to the nation’s capital to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally and hear then-President Donald Trump address supporters.
Khater and Tanios joined the crowd marching from the rally to the Capitol and approached Lower West Terrace. Khater became furious after being exposed to the police chemical spray “like he was an innocent victim,” a prosecutor, Gilead Light, told the judge.
Surveillance video shows Khater reaching into Tanios’ backpack and pulling out a canister of pepper spray that Tanios had bought the day before. The video captured Tanios saying, “Wait, wait, not yet, not yet… it’s early,” as Khater reached into his backpack.
A few minutes later, Khater approached officers guarding a barricade and spray-sprayed at least three of them, including Sicknick.
“He took action just when officers were most defenseless,” Light said.
Light said the attack was premeditated, but Khater’s attorneys said he did not plan the attack. Khater told the FBI that he and Tanios brought bear spray and pepper spray to the rally to protect themselves.
Khater stopped spraying police after an officer sprayed him. Police officers withdrew from Lower West Terrace after Khater’s attack.
More than three hours after police cleared the Capitol of rioters, Sicknick began disparaging his speech while speaking to other officers and collapsed. He was kept in a hospital on life support for almost 24 hours before he died.
Khater pleaded guilty in September to two counts of assaulting and obstructing officers with a dangerous weapon.
Tanios pleaded guilty in July to two counts, each carrying a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
Neither of them were charged with entering the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Prosecutors had recommended that Tanios be sentenced to the five months and six days he has already spent in prison.
Tanios ran a sandwich shop near the West Virginia University campus. It was closed during his prison time.
Khater has been detained in Newark, New Jersey since his arrest in March 2021. He ran an organic restaurant that closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 100 police officers were injured in the Capitol on January 6th. More than 950 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 riots.
About 500 defendants have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor charges. Over 380 were sentenced, more than half of them to prison terms ranging from seven days to 10 years.
https://nypost.com/2023/01/27/julian-khater-sentenced-in-attack-of-capitol-cop-brian-sicknick/ Julian Khater convicted of assaulting Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick