Fact Check: Was Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick Killed By Rioters?

There has been widespread speculation on the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, whose death ignited an outpouring of emotion from Americans after he died following the January 6 Capitol riot.

Sicknick, 42, joined the Capitol police in 2008. He was an Air Force veteran who served in the New Jersey Air National Guard before becoming a police officer.

The Claim

Social media users have issued different claims about Sicknick's death while some wonder whether he was killed by rioters or not amid conflicting reports.

"Brian Sicknick was the capital police officer killed by rioters with a fire extinguisher," one user tweeted February 19.

Brian Sicknick was the capital police officer killed by rioters with a fire extinguisher. The other four were domestic terrorists in the act of trying to overthrow the United States of America and keep a fascist dictator in power. Their names are Irrelevant.

— J.P. (@Idocracygenius) February 20, 2021

"Learned today that the police officer 'killed' by the rioters at the US Capitol building on January 6, actually wasn't..." another user wrote on February 23.

Learned today that the police officer 'killed' by the rioters at the US Capitol building on January 6, actually wasn't...#Sicknick #MysteryDeath #FalseReporting

— Greg Macdougall (@GregEqEd) February 23, 2021

"Narrative: Sicknick was beat to death

Reality: He died of a stroke," another user claimed differently on February 23.

Narrative: Rioters planted bombs
Reality: Bombs were placed near DNC and RNC headquarters the night before

Narrative: Sicknick was beat to death
Reality: He died of a stroke

Narrative: AOC almost died
Reality: Rioters never entered her building

Stop believing the narrative

— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) February 23, 2021

The Facts

The U.S. Capitol Police announced that Officer Sicknick died around 9:30 p.m. January 7 "due to injuries sustained while on-duty" following the insurrection in a statement released the night he died.

Sicknick "was injured while physically engaging with protestors," the statement said. "He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries."

There have been few official details released since Sicknick's death. The investigation by Capitol police, the DC Metropolitan Police Department's homicide branch and federal law enforcement officials is ongoing.

The medical examiner's report on the cause of Sicknick's death has not been released.

"The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will release the cause and manner of death when this information is available," Cheryle Adams, a spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, told Newsweek in an email.

The Metropolitan Police Department confirmed to Newsweek that it is actively investigating the officer's death.

"No arrests have been made at this time in connection with this case," Metropolitan Police Department Public Affairs Specialist Alaina Gertz told Newsweek. "There is no further information available to provide as this case remains under active investigation."

Media reports immediately following Sicknick's death cited unnamed law enforcement officials and claimed the officer died from being hit with a fire extinguisher during the riot.

House of Representatives managers for former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial wrote in their trial memorandum on February 2, signed by Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) that, "The insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher."

FBI spokesperson Jessica Davis said, "As this is an ongoing investigation, I cannot provide any information other than what is included in Acting Attorney General Rosen's statement."

Rosen's January 8 statement offered condolences to the Sicknick family and said that officials "will spare no resources in investigating and holding accountable those responsible."

More recently, there have been differing media reports that refute that Sicknick was injured by a fire extinguisher and that he did not suffer any blunt force trauma. These reports, that originated with CNN, suggest he might have suffered from a chemical irritant instead and cited an unnamed law enforcement official.

Sicknick's mother in a recent Daily Mail report said they believe he died after suffering a stroke, not from a fatal blow to the head, but that they do not know for sure. Sicknick family spokesperson Kim Kosa-Tita told Newsweek that the Sicknick family declined to provide further comment.

In a January 8 online statement released by Sicknick's brother, Ken Sicknick, on behalf of the family, said, "Many details regarding Wednesday's events and the direct causes of Brian's injuries remain unknown and our family asks the public and the press to respect our wishes in not making Brian's passing a political issue."

The Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment on if Sicknick was struck by a fire extinguisher or if they are investigating whether he suffered from a chemical irritant.

Capitol Police and the Office of the Attorney General for D.C. did not respond to Newsweek's inquiries.

The Ruling


There has been no official report regarding the cause of Officer Sicknick's death as the investigation is ongoing.

Officials have not made any arrests and have not publicly identified any suspects.

Brian Sicknick Capitol
U.S. Capitol police officers carry the urn holding the remains of fellow Officer Brian Sicknick and a U.S. flag to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., on February 2, 2021. Salwan Georges/Getty