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Feds Eye Suspect in DC Officer Death   02/28 08:55

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal investigators probing the death of a U.S. Capitol 
Police officer killed in the Jan. 6 riot have zeroed in on a suspect seen on 
video appearing to spray a chemical substance on the officer before he later 
collapsed and died, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated 
Press.

   The FBI has obtained video that shows the person spraying Brian Sicknick and 
other law enforcement officers during the Jan. 6 riot, the people said. But 
they cautioned that federal agents haven't yet identified the suspect by name 
and the act hasn't been directly tied to Sicknick's death.

   The idea that Sicknick died after being sprayed by a chemical irritant has 
emerged in recent weeks as a new theory in the case.

   Investigators initially believed that Sicknick was hit in the head with a 
fire extinguisher, based on statements collected early in the investigation, 
according to one of the people and another law enforcement official briefed on 
the case. But as they've collected more evidence, the theory of the case has 
evolved and investigators now believe Sicknick may have ingested a chemical 
substance --- possibly bear spray --- during the riot that may have contributed 
to his death, the officials said.

   The people could not publicly discuss the details of an ongoing 
investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

   Sicknick died after defending the Capitol against the mob that stormed the 
building as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden's electoral win over 
Donald Trump. It came after Trump urged supporters on the National Mall to 
"fight like hell" to overturn his defeat.

   The circumstances surrounding Sicknick's death remain unclear and a final 
cause of death has not yet been determined. Capitol Police have said he died 
after he was injured "while physically engaging with protesters" and this week, 
the agency's acting chief said officials consider it a line-of-duty death.

   Sicknick collapsed later on, was hospitalized and died. The Justice 
Department opened a federal murder investigation into his death, but 
prosecutors are still evaluating what specific charges could be brought in the 
case, the people said.

   In a statement late Friday, Capitol Police said the medical examiner's 
report on Sicknick's death is not yet complete. "We are awaiting toxicology 
results and continue to work with other government agencies regarding the death 
investigation," the statement said.

   The New York Times first reported investigators were zeroing in on one 
suspect in the case; CNN previously reported law enforcement had collected 
video evidence to identify a handful of potential suspects.

   The FBI has already released about 250 photos of people being sought for 
assaulting federal law enforcement officers during the riot. Some have already 
been arrested and the Justice Department said about 300 people have been 
charged with federal offenses related to the riot.

 
 
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