A West Virginia man accused of assaulting Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the January 6 riot, was found following a controversial trial in which prosecutors presented video clips showing the officer and two others Colleagues doused with chemical spray were sentenced to a court case, fighting to recover.
Michael Aloi, who described the video as “surreal”, said he was “very pleased with the government evidence” against George Pierre Tanios, a 39-year-old restaurant owner from Morgantown.
Tanios, who is charged with Pennsylvania’s Julian Elie Khater, 32, is sentenced to decades in jail if he is convicted on ten grounds, including conspiring with Khater to attack officers with chemical repellants during the deadly siege. None of the suspects are charged with Nick’s death.
“We created a culture radicalized by hate,” said Aloi. “There were no songs or joy and peace (on January 6th) – nothing but hatred and anger … I understand that this is a one-time event, but there are people serving life sentences for a one-time event.”
Attorney Elizabeth Gross, who represented Tanios, cast the 10 government video clips as “small limited-edition snippets” offered in support of an “act” and suggested that there was no evidence that Tanios intended officials to insist Would be targeted.
“There is no doubt that there is a serious criminal offense,” Gross told the judge. “But you hear her story. Is it serious? Yes. But what do we know? Not much.”
Bear spray or pepper spray?
At one point, Sicknick is shown in a blue uniform jacket, walking away from the chaotic police line, removing his headgear, and rubbing his face and eyes to clear his vision.
Tanios’ co-defendant, Khater, can be seen on a video in which Sicknick and other officers discharge spray from a white can with a black lid on their face.
“Give me this bear (expletive),” said Khater allegedly to Tanios, before pulling spray cans out of Tanios’ backpack.
Prosecutors said Tanios allegedly bought the chemical repellent from a store in West Virginia the day before the attack. Riley Palmertree, the FBI special agent who led the investigation into the Tanios and Khater case, said Monday it was not yet clear whether Khater used highly toxic bear spray or pepper spray on the officers.
Among the items Tanios allegedly bought the day before the attack were two cans of Frontiersman Bear Spray and two cans of pepper spray.
Khater can be seen in the video holding a canister and waving it from side to side, about five to eight feet from three officers, including Sicknick. The videos showed how each of the officers withdrew after contact with the spray while colleagues ran with water to their aide and brought the temporarily blinded officers to safety.
“I don’t raise bad kids”
To win Tanios’ release pending trial, defense attorneys called five witnesses, including the suspect’s mother, who offered an emotional defense for her son.
“I raised my children in church,” said Maguy Tanios, testifying via video conference. “My son is not bad. I’m honest with you, I don’t raise bad kids.”
Later, tearfully, the mother, an immigrant from Lebanon, refused a proposal by the prosecutor that Tanios, if released before the trial, could flee to Lebanon, where family ties exist.
“What are you talking about?” She said. “This is my country – the United States.”
Massive investigations can include riot allegations
Acting US Capitol Police President Yogananda Pittman has described the siege of the Capitol and the attack by officials as an “attack on our democracy”.
“Those who committed these heinous crimes must be held accountable. Let me make it clear that these unlawful acts will not be and will not be tolerated by this department,” said Pittman.
So far, more than 400 suspects have been charged in one of the largest investigations in US history. Michael Sherwin, the former federal prosecutor who oversaw the investigation, said in an interview about “60 minutes” on Sunday that the evidence gathered so far supports possible sedition charges.
When asked if investigators are investigating the possible role of former President Donald Trump in sparking the uprising, Sherwin said, “Everything is under review.”