January 6 Narrative Collapse: Assault Charges Spell Problems for DOJ, FBI in Officer Sicknick Case

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A major development broke this week in the Federal investigation into what exactly caused the death of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.

The below headline from Salon captures what was supposed to have happened:

With new arrests, police provide more clarity into death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick

But providing “clarity” into Sicknick’s death was approximately the opposite of what transpired.

Here’s what we know:

Two men, Julian Khater and George Tanios, have been charged with nine criminal counts for actions taken on January 6th just outside the steps of the U.S. Capitol building. The most serious offense appears to be assault on an officer with a dangerous weapon, arising from Khater’s alleged use of Tanios’s chemical spray to tag Officer Sicknick and two other officers in the face.

It’s not fully clear whether “dangerous weapon” or “deadly weapon” is the apt description. The front page of the criminal complaint describes the assault as only being with a “dangerous weapon”:

The Justice Department ‘s own presumably authoritative website press release stipulates only the charge of assault with a “dangerous weapon“:

In ordinary circumstances, this distinction would be meaningless, since at the legal level, “dangerous” and “deadly” are effectively the same thing on a weapons charge.

But at the narrative level, it means everything. The question of whether the events of January 6th were only “dangerous” versus actually “deadly” is effectively the dividing line between “a situation getting out of line” and “domestic terrorism.”

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