One month after Capitol police officer killed in riot, and still no named suspects

One month after Capitol police officer killed in riot, and still no named suspects

While Black Lives Matter protesters experienced a downpour of immediate arrests in Minnesota following the death of George Floyd, the mostly white crowd that ascended on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 experienced something more akin to a sprinkle. Following their attempted coup to block election results from being certified, the “number of federal cases against individuals involved in the Capitol Hill Siege stands at 193,” the Program on Extremism at George Washington University said on its website on Friday. Only 52 of the suspects, less than one-third, were charged within seven days of the riot, and a capitol police officer died in that attack. 

By the end of week one of protests following Floyd’s death, at least 604 demonstrators were arrested in Minneapolis and the neighboring St. Paul alone, and that tally only counts arrests tracked from May 29, when a local agency was created to keep track of such arrests, to June 2, according to the agency. “Most were cited for curfew violations and released,” the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Multi-Agency Command Center tweeted on June 2. Just imagine if instead of prioritizing alleged curfew violators, authorities aggressively pursued terrorists whose siege not only forced legislators to hide in their offices in fear of their lives but whose violence actually ended with officer Brian Sicknick dead on January 7.

He was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, three unnamed sources told CBS-affiliated news station WUSA. Although Robert Sanford, a retired firefighter from Pennsylvania, was arrested on January 14 after he was accused of hitting multiple police officers with a fire extinguisher, he has not been linked to Sicknick’s death. The medical examiner’s office has not even released a cause of death yet.

NEW: Robert Sanford, who the feds say used a fire extinguisher to attack an officer, has been indicted on five counts. He was previously charged by criminal complaint. (The grand jury returned the indictment on Friday, but it was docketed today.) https://t.co/sI7598bPh8 pic.twitter.com/pl8mpNCjBk

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) February 7, 2021

Glenn Ivey, Prince George’s County’s former state’s attorney, told WUSA inconclusive evidence could be causing the delay. “It could be a challenge to sort out and specify who exactly did what in the middle of that riot that was going on,” Ivey said. “And they’ve got to link it directly to causing the death of Officer Sicknick, either by someone who, say, hit him with a fire extinguisher, or someone who was part of the effort to do that … maybe somebody held him while he was hit or something along those lines. And I think that’s part of the delay in moving forward with that.”

Ivey also told the news station the delay could also be the result of the FBI having to review hundreds of hours of video footage. “What the prosecutors might be doing is putting a lot of people in front of the grand jury, gathering a lot of information, and videos in particular, about who was there who might have been in the vicinity, who might have information about it,” Ivey said. “And they’re also spending a lot of time going through electronic information. They’re probably getting cell phone information as well. So it’s going to take a while for them to nail all of that down. And I’m sure they’re going to want to be thorough and careful.”

The Capitol Police officers’ union plans to hold a vote of no-confidence in its leadership, union chairman Gus Papathanasiou told WTOP News. “The union’s position hasn’t changed; we don’t have faith in the leadership of this department,” Papathanasiou said.

“We have one officer who lost his life as a direct result of the insurrection,” Papathanasiou said in a statement WUSA obtained last month. “Another officer has tragically taken his own life. Between USCP (U.S. Capitol Police) and our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Department, we have almost 140 officers injured.

“I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal disks. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake.”

In a response to Acting Chief Pittman’s testimony yesterday, @CapitolPolice Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou says failure to act on intelligence about possibility of violence was “unconscionable.” (h/t to my colleague @BruceLeshan for getting the letter) pic.twitter.com/Nn5jvU6bRt

— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) January 27, 2021

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigned after facing criticism, and acting chief Yogananda Pittman promised “significant changes” to operations, policies, and procedures based on multiple reviews. “The resolve of our department was tested, and we will not be intimidated or beaten down,” she said in the video. “We will get through this together.”

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