WASHINGTON — A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of assaulting police with a dangerous weapon for pepper spraying U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and another officer on Jan. 6.
Khater was indicted along with a co-defendant, George Tanios, of West Virginia, in March 2021 on 10 counts, including felony counts of conspiracy to impede or injure an officer, assaulting on police with a dangerous weapon and obstruction of an official proceeding. In charging documents, prosecutors said receipts showed Tanios purchased canisters of bear spray from a gun shop in West Virginia on Jan. 5, 2021.
A day later, prosecutors said, it was Khater who reached into Tanios’ backpack and pulled out a canister of chemical irritant – which they initially identified as bear spray before walking that claim back to pepper spray – and then allegedly assaulted three officers with it. One of the officers struck by the spray was U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who collapsed later in the day and died on Jan. 7. A medical examiner determined Sicknick died of natural causes, and neither Tanios nor Khater were ever charged in connection with his death.
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was also struck by Khater's pepper spray, testified before the January 6th Committee earlier this year about the "war scene" she experienced at the Capitol.
“It was carnage," she said. "It was chaos.”
Tanios pleaded guilty in July to one count each of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct, both misdemeanors. At that hearing, prosecutors said they had also extended a plea offer to Khater for two counts of assaulting a federal officer with a dangerous weapon. The recommended sentencing guideline, prosecutors said, would be 78-97 months in prison. That could put Khater’s potential sentence in the range of those received by Guy Reffitt and Thomas Robertson, who were both convicted at trial of multiple felony counts and each sentenced to 87 months in prison.
Khater, who has been detained since his arrest last March, appeared virtually before U.S. District Judge Thomas G. Hogan on Thursday to accept that plea offer. Sentencing was set to take place in person at 10 a.m. on Dec. 13.
In addition to his likely prison sentence, Khater also agreed to pay restitution to all victims who suffered bodily injury as a result of his conduct on Capitol grounds, along with $2,000 in restitution for damage to the Capitol. The amount he'll owe to victims will be determined at sentencing.
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