On Wednesday, a House Democrat pushed a debunked claim that a police officer was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher by January 6 rioters, and was quickly corrected.
Rep. Mondaire Jones, (D-NY) claimed at a House Judiciary Committee meeting that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was bludgeoned by Trump supporters. This was first reported and later corrected by The New York Times. While Jones’ initial comment was not caught on video, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) heard it and questioned the Democrat.
“Did you say a police officer was bludgeoned to death by the crowd at the Jan. 6 riots?” Bishop asked Jones.
Jones confirmed that he had said “a police officer was bludgeoned to death” but that he “did not say at the hands of who.”
“Who are you referring to, if you don’t mind saying?” Bishop pressed.
Sicknick died just a day after the riot and succumbed to natural causes after suffering two strokes, according to the Washington, D.C., Medical Examiner’s Office.
As the pair went back and forth, it seemed clear that Jones sensed he was on shaky ground.
“Are you denying that at least one Capitol police officer was murdered in the midst of what happened on Jan. 6?” Jones shot back.
“Yeah, I think I am denying it,” Bishop replied. “I understood there were reports early on that Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, and that was subsequently debunked as false. He died of natural causes that were not connected to the event. Are we talking about the same person, Sicknick, or are we talking about somebody else?”
This prompted Jones to pivot to the unfounded claim that Sicknick’s death was indirectly caused by the rioters.
“You know, we’re talking about ‘but for’ causation of Officer Sicknick’s death,” he said. “And so I would hope you would at least concede at a minimum that Mr. Sicknick died as a result of what happened on Jan. 6 and I’m disappointed if you suggest otherwise sir.”
Jones later accused Bishop of nitpicking, saying that 138 Capitol and DC police officers were injured and that multiple Capitol police officers died, as a result of the riot. This may have been a reference to Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffrey Smith and Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood, both of whom committed suicide not long after Jan. 6.
On Jan. 8, 2021, The New York Times reported, citing “two law enforcement officials,” that Sicknick was beaten with a fire extinguisher and died hours later. A month later, the newspaper updated the story to say “law enforcement officials initially said Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, but weeks later, police sources and investigators were at odds over whether he was hit.”
Jones is not the first Democrat to repeat the false claim. House Democrats included the claim in their second article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump after the riot.
The individuals who died during the riot were Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by Capitol Police Officer Michael Byrd; Kevin Greeson, 55, and Benjamin Phillips, 50, who both suffered fatal heart attacks; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, whose death was attributed to an accidental overdose of amphetamines.
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