January 6th insurrectionist Julian Khater has been sentenced to almost seven years in prison for his role in the violent Capitol assault that led to the death of Officer Brian Sicknick.
His accomplice and childhood friend, George Tanios, was sentenced to five months time served.
“I don’t find any excuse for anyone attacking officers doing their duty facing a mob of thousands,” Judge Thomas F. Hogan said on Friday.
Officer Sicknick’s older brother, Kenneth Sicknick, joined Capitol Police officers, his mother Gladys Sicknick – who was wearing a shirt belonging to her deceased son — a brother, and Sandra Garza, Sicknick’s partner of 11 years, in the courtroom for sentencing.
Kenneth Sicknick told the court that Khater “will still be free and still be younger than Brian was when he died.”
The fallen Capitol officer was only 42 when he passed away. Currently 32 years old, Khater will still be under 40 years old when released if his full sentence is served.
The hearing was emotional, with Sicknick’s loved ones expressing pain and anger in the aftermath of the officer’s untimely and avoidable death.
“How does it feel to be headed to jail for a bald-faced lie?” Gladys Sicknick asked when addressing the defendants in court.
The grieving mother described her son as “a good boy who grew up to be a good man.”
Mrs. Sicknick places the onus for her son’s death on former President Donald Trump and asserts that “lawlessness, misplaced loyalty to a deranged autocratic ideal, and hate” contributed to the death of her child.
Officer Sicknick’s longtime partner Ms. Garza says that she initially felt sorry for Khater and Tanios, originally believing the defendants had been “brainwashed” by the ex-President.
Now, her feelings have since changed.
Ms. Garza said she is “disgusted,” by Khater and Tanios’ lack of remorse for their role in her loved one’s death, calling it “callous and malicious.”
A civil lawsuit was filed by Garza over the death of her partner, and it names Khater, Tainos, and former President Trump as defendants.
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Judge Hogan dismissed Khater’s half-hearted attempt at contrition, calling the defendant’s claim that he wishes he could “take it all back” self-centered and lacking an apology for the police officers that he sprayed with a toxic chemical.
“There are officers who lost their lives, there’s officers who committed suicide after this, there’s officers who can’t go back to work,” Hogan reminded the defendants.
Khater “pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon,” in September 2022, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice.
Both he and Tanios were arrested in March 2021, but a plea deal was reached between his co-rioter and federal prosecutors after Tanios admitted to purchasing the chemical spray and giving it to Khater.
Originally facing up to 20 years in federal prison, Khater’s 80-month sentence may seem like a slap on the wrist to some.
The D.C. judge claims the insurrectionist would be going away for a lot longer were it not for the coroner’s report.
Officer Sicknick’s death was determined to be of natural causes after suffering two strokes, though D.C.’s chief medical examiner confirmed that the events of the Capitol riot played a role in the officer’s death a day later.
The medical examiner’s findings potentially saved Mr. Khater from a murder charge.
“I am concerned about what you did do regardless of whether you’re responsible directly for the death of Officer Sicknick,” the judge said.
In court filings, defense attorneys Joseph Tacopina and Chad Seigel attempted to paint their client as a misunderstood, remorseful rube caught up in the hype of Trump mania.
“Mr. Khater’s conduct on January 6th was not part of some orchestrated plan to attack democracy, but rather constituted a fleeting and impulsive response to a moment of hysteria fueled by his preexisting diagnosed anxiety coupled with the potent influence of mob mentality,” they wrote in their filings.
“He feels genuine remorse for his conduct,” defense counsel added.
Officer Caroline Edwards — who was in close proximity to her colleague when he was sprayed — testified that she was slowed from rushing to Officer Sicknick’s aid after being doused by Khater with the same chemical spray.
“I felt like the worst kind of officer,” Edwards said. “Someone who didn’t help their friend, someone who couldn’t help their friend.”
Officer Edwards gave a harrowing account of the carnage witnessed on January 6th during the Congressional panel’s televised hearings last year.
Federal prosecutor Gilead Light called the assault on the officers “cowardly and premeditated,” noting that when barricades were breached, the defendant “chose violence.”
Though the sentencing won’t bring Officer Sicknick back, it is one more step toward closure for the heroic Capitol Police officer’s friends, colleagues, and family members who two years later are still grappling with what happened on that fateful day,
Judge Hogan also imposed a $10,000 penalty on Khater.
Original reporting by Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu at The Washington Post.
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