WASHINGTON — Federal authorities arrested two men over the weekend on suspicion of assaulting Capitol police Officer Brian Sicknick and two others with bear mace during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Julian Elie Khater, 32, and George Piere Tanios, 39, were arrested Sunday and are expected to appear in federal court Monday, The Associated Press reported.
In a criminal complaint obtained by The Washington Post, an FBI official said surveillance footage and other video showed Khater and Tanios talking on Jan. 6 as supporters of President Donald Trump gathered at the Capitol.
“Give me that bear (expletive),” Khater says in one video as he stands feet away from three police officers, including Sicknick. He can be seen reaching into Tanios’ pack and grabbing what appears to be a can of chemical spray as Tanios tells him to hold off.
“They just (expletive) sprayed me,” Khater says.
As rioters attempted to pull back a bike rack that had been placed to block access to the Capitol, Khater could be seen spraying officers with the apparent bear mace from five to eight feet away, authorities said. Video showed the officers immediately retreating from the line and beginning to hold their faces.
“The officers were (temporarily) blinded by the substance, were (temporarily) disabled from performing their duties and needed medical assistance from fellow officer,” according to the criminal complaint. “All three officers were incapacitated and unable to perform their duties for at least 20 minutes or longer while they recovered from the spray.”
Court records show homicide charges were not filed against either Khater or Tanios as authorities continue to investigate Sicknick’s death. Initially, authorities said Sicknick died after being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. However, investigators now believe Sicknick might have died after ingesting a chemical substance like bear spray, according to the AP.
Capitol police have said Sicknick died after he was injured “while physically engaging with protesters” and the agency’s acting chief said officials consider it a line-of-duty death. He died at a hospital Jan. 7 after collapsing following the riot. The Justice Department opened a federal murder investigation into his death, but prosecutors are still evaluating what specific charges could be brought in the case, the AP reported.
Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6, smashing windows and brawling with police officers as Congress was in session to ratify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.
At least five people, including Sicknick, died as a result of the violence. Hundreds of people, including several self-avowed members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, have since been arrested.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.