WASHINGTON — Former President Trump's attorneys have accepted service of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the longtime partner of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day after the siege on the U.S. Capitol in 2021.
According to court documents, the lawsuit accuses Trump and co-conspirators of using a campaign of lies and incendiary rhetoric that led to the ransacking of the U.S. Capitol as part of an insurrectionist effort and ultimately the wrongful death of Sicknick.
Garza is also suing Julian Khater and George Tanios. Both men were sentenced Friday in federal court for their roles in connection with the assault on Sicknick. Tanios was sentenced to time served – five months in jail – after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors related to purchasing the pepper spray used to attack Sicknick and other officers.
Khater received a sentence among the most severe of the Capitol riot defendants, six years and eight months.
The lawsuit names them as participants of the insurrectionist effort that Sicknick died while trying to stop.
The lawsuit reads, in part:
"Although it is beyond question Defendant Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, he still remains unwilling to accept defeat, He lied to his followers by, among other things, telling them that the certification of Joe Biden’s election was a 'coup' and that their country was being stolen from them. He filed dozens of frivolous lawsuits, all of which substantively failed. And he tried to intimidate state officials, none of whom caved to the pressure. Out of options and out of time, Defendant Trump finally called his supporters to Washington, D.C. on the day Congress met to certify President-elect Biden’s win, telling them to 'Stop the Steal' and that the day 'will be wild.' Tens of thousands of his supporters came to the District in response, including Defendants Khater and Tanios. Some, including Defendants Khater and Tanios, planned violence at the U.S. Capitol in advance; some were stirred to violence by Defendant Trump’s words on that day."
You can read the lawsuit below.
The court document goes on to say Sicknick and hundreds of other officers were put in mortal danger as Trump watched the events "unfold on live television from the safety of the White House."
The lawsuit alleges Trump was "delighted" as well as "confused about why other people weren't as excited as he was."
The lawsuit requests $10 million in damages be paid by each of the named defendants in addition to punitive damages and the cover of attorneys fees and costs for the investigation and prosecution.
Khater and Tanios were arrested in March 2021 and accused of assaulting at least three officers with chemical irritant. One of those officers, Sicknick, collapsed later in the day and died after suffering a series of strokes. A medical examiner determined Sicknick died of natural causes and neither Tanios nor Khater were charged with his death. However, Khater pleaded guilty last year to assaulting both Sicknick and USCP Officer Caroline Edwards with pepper spray.
Edwards, who testified last summer before the January 6th Committee about the traumatic brain injury she received while defending the Capitol, spoke Friday during the hearing about the attack – saying she remembered looking at Sicknick’s face and seeing it “ghostly pale and in pain.”
“I felt like the absolute worst kind of officer,” Edwards said. “Someone who didn’t help their friend. Couldn’t help their friend. Every time I looked in the mirror I was reminded of this. My eyes were red and scabbed for a month.”
“Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still see his face,” Edwards said, “white as a sheet.”
Dozens of Capitol Police officers attended the hearing Friday to watch the sentencing and listen to the victim impact statements from Sicknick’s long-time partner, Sandra Garza, and four members of his family. His mother Gladys, older brothers Craig and Kenneth, and sister-in-law Nicholle all read statements asking Hogan to impose a lengthy sentence on Khater.
Sandra Garza was present at the Capitol on June 9 for the first of the hearings presented by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. Seated next to Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, Garza wept at times while listening to the testimony being offered.
Following revelations at the Committee's sixth hearing on June 28, I spoke to Garza about Donald Trump, her hopes for what comes after the January 6th Committee hearings and whether she feels the U.S. government is doing enough to protect officers of the Capitol Police and DC Metropolitan Police from a repeat of January 6, 2021.
In the days following the Capitol riot, Garza recalls speaking with many high level officials in the government including those in Congress and Vice President Mike Pence.
It puzzled her, however, that she never heard from President Trump. Garza and Sicknick had both voted for Trump in November of 2020 and Brian in particular was a big supporter of his, she said.
But that was before learning about Trump's alleged actions on January 6th.
"When I realized that he didn't call in any reinforcements. He didn't want the riot to stop. Actually he orchestrated this entire thing. He was actually trying to, you know, overthrow the government so that he could stay in power," said Garza. "That's when it really hit me. And that's when the anger really started to boil up within me. And I was like, yeah, I actually can't stand this guy and you know, I hold him responsible for Brian's passing."