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Judge sentences Jan. 6 rioter who pepper sprayed Brian Sicknick to 80 months in prison

By Zach Schonfeld, The Hill

A federal judge sentenced a man to 80 months in prison for using pepper spray during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot against officer Brian Sicknick, who died hours later of natural causes.

Dozens of Sicknick’s former colleagues gathered in D.C.’s federal courthouse on Friday as U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan handed down Julian Khater’s sentence.

Khater pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting law enforcement with a dangerous weapon.

Court documents show that Khater sprayed Sicknick and another officer with a can of hand-held pepper spray. Khater also sprayed U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who appeared publicly before the House Jan. 6 committee in June and spoke at Friday’s sentencing.

“You are center stage in our recurring nightmare,” said Gladys Sicknick, the officer’s mother.

Sicknick was hospitalized the evening of the riot and died the following day. The medical examiner determined it was from two strokes caused by a blot clot, deeming it natural causes, while noting that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.”

“I felt like the absolute worst kind of officer,” Edwards said at Friday’s sentencing. “Someone who couldn’t help their friend.”

The government had asked the judge to sentence Khater to 90 months in prison, while Khater’s attorneys asked for the nearly two years he already spent in jail to satisfy his sentence.

Khater’s attorneys argued his anxiety disorder, harsh conditions at the jail and remorse following the riot merited the lower sentence.

“It’s not in my nature. It’s not who I am,” Khater told the judge just before he was sentenced.

Court documents state that Khater and co-defendant George Pierre Tanios traveled to D.C. together to attend former President Trump’s rally near the White House before joining rioters on the Capitol grounds.

Tanios had previously bought two cans of bear spray and two cans of pepper spray, giving the pepper spray canister to Khater, which he then used against the officers.

Federal prosecutors on Friday showed Hogan videos of the assaults, also playing Capitol surveillance footage showing Sicknick stumbling for minutes outside the building once he was sprayed.

Later on Friday, the judge sentenced Tanios to time served and one year of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, a misdemeanor.

Five members of Sicknick’s family spoke during the proceedings, tearful at times as they largely blamed Khater for the officer’s death, asking for a harsh punishment.

Sicknick’s longtime partner, Sandra Garza, specifically demanded “the maximum sentence you can impose.”

Garza earlier this month also filed a separate civil lawsuit against Khater, Tanios and Trump, demanding $10 million in damages from each of them.

Roughly 140 police officers were assaulted on Jan. 6 at the Capitol, according to the Department of Justice. In the roughly two years since the attack, federal prosecutors have arrested more than 950 defendants.

This article originally appeared on The Hill.

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