A U.S. Capitol Police officer is among five people who died due to the insurrection into the Capitol building this week, an announcement that comes amid continuing questions about why there were insufficient law enforcement protections in preparation for the planned siege.
Officer Brian D. Sicknick was injured after engaging with members of the mob that swarmed the Capitol on Wednesday and collapsed in his office later that day before ultimately dying in the hospital on Thursday, the Capitol Police said in a statement. Sicknick was a member of the department’s First Responders Unit.
Law enforcement sources told the New York Times that the officer was struck with a fire extinguisher during the riot. Federal investigators and the homicide branch of the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C. are now partnering with Capitol Police to probe the cop’s death. According to NBC News, Sicknick is the fifth person to die as a result of the rampant lawlessness that took place in the nation’s capital and was prompted by the president’s persistent lies that the election was stolen from him. Alongside Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police while trying to enter Senate chambers, three other people died at the Capitol grounds from medical emergencies.
Meanwhile, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund has tendered his resignation from the force effective January 16, reports AP. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Capitol Police Union had called for Sund to step down.
On Thursday, Sund said his department had only been expecting a free speech demonstration in D.C. and not a violent attack, which is a stunning and willful dereliction of duty and common sense in my opinion, as white supremacists spent weeks boasting on social media about their plans to take back the Capitol on Jan. 6. Police’s decision to not take the rioters at their word likely explains why there was a notable absence of the National Guard as chaos spread on Wednesday. According to AP, three days before the riot the Pentagon had asked the U.S. Capitol Police if they needed reinforcements and the police turned them down.
Then again, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said on Thursday that his attempts to get his state’s National Guard to come in and quell the insurrection on the day of were repeatedly rebuffed by the Pentagon on the basis that there was no authorization, even while Congressional leaders were urging him to bring protections in.
According to the Capital Gazette, the request for National Guard assistance needed authorization from the Department of Defense because the U.S. Capitol Police is a federal agency. After the back and forth described by Gov. Hogan, the Acting Secretary of the DoD finally gave the order allowing the Maryland National Guard to be deployed.
The story of the siege on Jan. 6 is clearly still being untangled—in particular, the role that law enforcement at all levels played in it going as far off the rails as it did.