Former President Donald Trump has filed a motion in federal court to dismiss the $30 million wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the former girlfriend of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of a stroke on Jan. 7, 2021.
Sandra Garza, Sicknick’s former girlfriend and the representative of his estate, filed suit in January against Trump and Jan. 6 defendants Julian Khater and George Tanios. She is seeking at least $10 million in compensatory damages, plus unspecified punitive damages from each defendant.
Garza’s suit claims that Trump incited a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, through his speech at the Ellipse. The alleged incitement gave supporters such as Khater and Tanios the motivation to attack the Capitol and deploy chemical irritants against Officer Sicknick, the lawsuit contends.
In his motion to dismiss, Trump attorney Jesse Binnall rapped the suit for false allegations, claiming that Trump enjoyed absolute immunity as president and that his purely political speech is protected by the First Amendment.
“Unfortunately for the plaintiff, the First Amendment forbids courts to regulate the content of political speech,” Binnall wrote in a 46-page memorandum of law filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.
“Moreover, it is the content of the speech itself—not the effect on or subsequent actions of the listeners—that determines whether such speech is constitutionally protected.”
Death From Natural Causes
Sicknick’s death on Jan. 7 was attributed by the D.C. medical examiner to natural causes. Stories that were circulated in legacy media falsely claimed that Sicknick had died after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.
Although Sicknick was exposed to pepper spray on the afternoon of Jan. 6, there was no indication it was a contributing factor in his death, according to the autopsy report.
Khater was sentenced to 80 months in prison on two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers with a dangerous weapon. He was convicted of discharging a canister of pepper spray at the police line on the west front of the Capitol, striking Sicknick.