A man who admitted using chemical spray to assault Brian Mr Sidenick on January 6th 2021, a day before the Capitol police officer died, was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison in a Washington court on Friday.
Julian Khater (33) from Pennsylvania, was also fined $10,000 (€9,197).
The judge, Thomas F Hogan, told Khater: “There are officers who lost their lives, there’s officers who committed suicide after this, there’s officers who can’t go back to work. Your actions ... are inexcusable.”
Mr Sidenick’s death, at 42, is one of nine now linked to the attack on the Capitol on January 6th 2021 by supporters of Donald Trump attempting to block certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.
Later that month Mr Sidenick’s body lay in honour in the Capitol Rotunda. Two months after that the Washington DC medical examiner ruled that the officer died from natural causes after suffering two strokes.
But in March 2022 Khater pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting officers with a dangerous weapon. He faced a maximum sentence of 20 years. Prosecutors asked for seven and a half. Khater has already served 22 months of his 80-month tariff.
A friend of Khater, George Tanios (41) from West Virginia, admitted buying bear deterrent and chemical spray and giving some to Khater. Charged with walking on restricted grounds at the Capitol, he faced six months in prison. He also faced sentencing on Friday.
Nearly 1,000 people have been charged over the Capitol attack and more than 300 sentenced. The longest sentence yet, of 10 years, went to Thomas Webster, a retired police officer from New York who attacked officers with a flagpole.
[ Man who stormed US Capitol with gun gets longest prison term over riot ]
The House January 6th committee recommended four criminal charges against Mr Trump, for inciting the riot. The Department of Justice has not acted.
Mr Sidenick’s partner, Sandra Garza, has filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against Khater, Tanios and Mr Trump.
In court filings before sentencing, the assistant US attorney Gilead Light said Khater was “visibly incensed” at the Capitol on January 6th, and used pepper spray against police for half a minute.
“Khater’s tone of voice and his facial expressions ... betray his emotion, his anger and his loss of control,” Mr Gilead said. “He [was] incensed at having been personally sprayed by police chemical spray while standing on the front line of a riot, as if he had been an innocent victim.”
Attorneys for Khater sought to blame Mr Trump, writing: “A climate of mass hysteria, fuelled by the dissemination of misinformation about the 2020 election, originating at the highest level, gave rise to a visceral powder keg waiting to ignited.”
But Gladys Mr Sidenick, the officer’s mother, said Khater was “centre stage in our recurring nightmare” and “the reason Brian is dead”.
[ More than 950 people arrested in connection with attack on US Capitol two years ago ]
“Lawlessness, misplaced loyalty and hate killed my son,” she said. “I hope you are haunted by your crimes behind bars. Whatever jail time you receive is not enough.”
In court on Friday, as around 50 uniformed Capitol police officers looked on, Khater said he wished he “could take it all back”. Rebuked by the judge for not apologising to any officer he assaulted, he said he had been advised not to do so, due to the wrongful death lawsuit.
Officer Mr Sidenick’s brother, Kenneth Mr Sidenick, said that when Khater was released, he would “still be younger than Brian was when he died”. – Guardian