WASHINGTON — Nineteen months after the U.S. Capitol riot of January 6, 2021, Sandra Garza still can't bring herself to pack up the clothes and belongings of her longtime partner, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
Sicknick's jeans still hang on a wall hook in a common area of the home they shared together. That's where he hung them before putting on his Capitol Police uniform January 6th.
"His shoes are still on the shoe rack that we have by the door. I can't move those either," said Garza. "It's very painful. And I don't know when I'll be ready to do those things."
Sicknick, 42, was attacked while on duty at the Capitol January 6th. He collapsed and died the following day.
Garza was present at the Capitol on June 9th 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 Tuesday 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."
Tuesday's hearing featured the testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. She testified that Trump was told the crowd gathered to watch his January 6th speech at the Ellipse was armed. Trump allegedly instructed Secret Service officials to remove the magnetometers that were screening people entering the Ellipse. Additionally, despite knowing that the crowd was armed, Trump directed them to march towards the Capitol anyway.
"That selfish bastard. That is very upsetting. I mean, I'm not surprised," said Garza. "I mean, my mouth dropped. My jaw dropped. It shouldn't be shocking by now. But it still is unbelievable that he was the President of the United States at the time and made an order like that."
The U.S. Capitol Police force has gone through a change of leadership since January 6th. Garza, however, does not believe enough is being done to prevent a January 6th-like event from happening again.
"There needs to be something done within Capitol Police," Garza said. "They're not listening to the officers. I've talked to them, so you know, I know how they they feel. They feel that the leadership that was in place at the time of the 6th wasn't held accountable. They were very hopeful. When Chief Manger came in they were hoping that there would be a significant change and the morale would improve. And that hasn't happened."
Garza talked about an officer shortage affecting both Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police and indicated it may get worse.
"I don't see how they're gonna kind of turn things around from here. I already know that there are people talking of resigning in the future," said Garza. "So it's not looking good."
WUSA9 has been focused on the final work product of the January 6th Committee through a series of stories produced following each of the hearings. I have spoken with Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell, House staffer Sharon Nichols and Committee members Rep Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Rep Elaine Luria (D-VA) about their hopes for recommendations and possible legislation when the committee wraps up its hearings.
Garza discusses her hopes following the conclusion of the Committee's work.
"I have to agree with (Capitol Police) Officer Gonell. I would like to see some accountability," Garza said. "These people that participated in this attempted coup have impacted many people's lives. And it hasn't been for the better. It’s taken a negative, terrible toll and they need to be held accountable. You cannot hurt people and get away with that. There has to be some consequence from your actions. It's not right for them to not be held accountable."
It's discouraging to Garza that former President Trump has invoked Ashley Babbitt's name more than Sicknick's. In fact, she can't recall Trump ever mentioning Sicknick. Babbitt was shot and killed while trying to enter the Speaker's Lobby just off the floor of the House of Representatives through a broken window inside the Capitol.
"It's very painful given that Brian and I were supporters of him at the time and particularly Brian. Brian's was a big supporter of Donald Trump even more so than me," Garza said.
"I have empathy for Ashley Babbitt’s family. I know they experienced a lot of pain and grief just like I did. But at the same time, I also have a lot of empathy for the officer who was put in that position to have to make that call to protect the members of Congress," she said. "I mean, it's not easy for an officer to have to make that terrible decision. I think a lot of people who are not in law enforcement don't understand that it's incredibly traumatic."
Garza's feelings about Donald Trump have changed considerably as revelations have continued to emerge about his alleged culpability on January 6th. She offered her thoughts about Attorney General Merrick Garland and the potential for Trump to face criminal charges.
Do I think he's (Attorney General Garland) doing enough? No, I don't. I would like to think that after this, there will be something done," Garza said.
"I don't know why it's taking so long. It seems like its moving at a snails pace. Trump and all these people that have enabled Trump, it's like they've gotten away with murder and they continue to get away with murder. And, you know, the average Joe or Jane you know, we would have been in prison by now. So what's different here?"