For all the bloviating and posturing from Democrats and the mainstream media about how Republicans are supposedly revising the history of the Capitol riots, very few of these same people hold themselves to the standards they demand of their political opposition when either reporting on or discussing what happened that day.
One falsehood, in particular, has persisted, and that is the one where rioters are accused of “murdering” multiple Capitol Police officers. While it’s true that early on, those investigating the attack were operating off the premise that the late Officer Brian Sicknick was killed as he tried to defend the Capitol building, D.C. chief medical examiner Francisco J. Diaz ruled in mid-April that Sicknick “suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted rioters at the Jan. 6 insurrection.”
Though Diaz did state that “all that transpired” during the Capitol riots between rioters and police officers “played a role” in Sicknick’s condition, his findings dealt a serious blow to the left/media’s “murder” narrative concerning the officer’s death. Predictably, Diaz’s findings led to baseless insinuations from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and other left-wing political commentators that a conspiracy to hide what they believe truly happened was afoot.
Here we are a month later, and the claim that multiple officers were killed at the riots is still being floated, this time by White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Her remarks came during today’s press briefing when she was asked by a reporter about a letter Capitol Police officer Michael Fanone reportedly sent to the White House asking for public acknowledgment of the trauma officers suffered that day and since. Here’s how the exchange went down (bolded emphasis added):
Reporter: “About 15 days ago, I think, Michael Fanone — who is a D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer who was there on January the 6th — was beaten, tased; they stole his badge; you know, suffered a lot of trauma — he says that he still is living through it — he says he sent you a letter about 15 days ago talking about the emotional anxiety that he still struggles with on a daily basis. And saying it’s “time to fully recognize” the actions of the officers on that day. So I was just wondering if the White House has a response to him.”
Jen Psaki: “I’m happy to check on the status of the letter. Obviously, the President’s view is that there are a number of officers who lost their lives, paid a tremendous sacrifice for — on a day that will be a stain on our democracy for many years to come. And certainly, many who survived — this will be a long-lasting trauma. I’d have to check on the letter and the status of that.”
I’ve set the video below to start when the question was asked. Watch:
There is zero doubt that officers experienced trauma as a result of what happened that day and are still dealing with it 5 months later. It was their solemn duty to protect the Capitol building and the people in it, and the fact that it was breached and the fallout from it will stay with and haunt the Capitol Police force for decades to come.
There’s also no question that the riots shouldn’t have happened. Maybe between the umpteen investigations and commissions that are in place to look into the events of January 6th, we’ll learn the full, unvarnished scope of what happened. Considering how politicized the issue has become, however, I’m not holding out much hope. But maybe I’ll be surprised.
All that said, what’s not true is that any police officer was killed or died that day. As noted above, Sicknick “suffered two strokes and died of natural causes” the day after the attack per the chief medical examiner. Two other officers, Met Police officer Jeffrey Smith and Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood died by suicide in the days after the riots.
The only person killed that day was Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to gain entry through a broken window. The DOJ closed that case last month, announcing they will not pursue criminal charges against the unnamed officer.
I get that there’s a lot of emotion surrounding this issue, and that’s understandable. That there was violence at and inside the Capitol building was bad enough. Fortunately, the bad actors involved are going to face punishment in due time.
But the seriousness of what happened shouldn’t be compounded by making claims about who died during the riots that aren’t true. Correcting the record on this doesn’t make the deaths of Officers Sicknick, Smith, and Liebengood any less tragic. But what it does do is set the record straight at a time lawmakers in both parties are claiming that all they want is the truth.