WASHINGTON – Brian Cynic tracked his squad from the National Guard in Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan and a military base in his home state of New Jersey, all hoping to one day wear a police uniform. That was a wish fulfilled more than 10 years ago when he joined the U.S. Capitol Police Department.
Then on Wednesday, pro-Trump rebels attacked this citadel of democracy, defeated 42-year-old Siknik and hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officers. With a bloody wound to the head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died Thursday night.
Officer Siknik’s death heightened the nation’s grief following a shocking Capitol attack by rebels fueled by President Trump’s calls to stop Congress from counting electoral votes and formally declaring Joseph R. Biden Jr. the winner of the November election. One of these riots, Ashley Babbitt, also died in the melee, shot by a police officer as he tried to make his way into the speaker’s heavily guarded lobby, right in front of the House.
In all, five have died since the uprising began, although three have not been killed by hostilities. But the beating of an employee led to condolences from lawmakers on both sides, who were still shaking from the event. He also revealed one of the many controversies of Trump’s presidency in recent weeks in the Oval Office. The president, who is campaigning as a candidate for law and order, bragging about his links to police unions and demonizing protesters against racist police, has sparked a riot that has killed a member of the law enforcement community.
“That’s a lot of nonsense,” William J. Bratton, a former police commissioner in New York, spoke of Mr. Trump’s promises to police, although he used a stronger word. “It was an appropriation of the term ‘law and order.'”
Justice Department officials told a news conference Friday that they were investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Sicknick’s death, but would not say whether it was a federal homicide investigation. One officer said that “murder is always in action”, but that investigators should finish their work.
Mr Trump reformulated his presidential campaign this summer around “law and order” amid the unrest that followed the assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis, promising to take action against the riots and looting. This week, he helped provoke these crimes by encouraging his supporters to go to the Capitol to interrupt the counting of votes at Electoral College.
In videos posted on social media, Mr. Trump called the storming of the Capitol a “disgusting act.” His spokeswoman, Kaylee McEnnany, also condemned the violence on behalf of the entire White House.
Some law enforcement communities said Wednesday’s death underscored Mr Trump’s efforts to use a public safety commitment to boost political support, not necessarily to help police.
The presidential transition
While Mr. Trump gathered police officers for his side, his justice ministry also threatened to deprive New York of a federal subsidy called a police officer killed in the line of duty when local leaders do not accept his immigration measures. He cut funding in the early years of his presidency to prevent domestic terrorism, and the Department of Homeland Security was accused last year of suppressing a warning of the rise of violent white nationalists – extremist groups that joined the Capitol mob. n Sicknick works for protection.
“He has shown nothing to support law enforcement other than shaking hands and patting them on the back and telling them that whatever they do, they are fine and right,” said Gil Kerlikowski, a former Seattle police chief and three other cities.
Mr. Trump’s rhetoric really appealed to a lot of ordinary cops, and that was obvious on Wednesday. As the crowd headed for the Capitol, some officers were spotted taking selfies with Trump loyalists. Video footage was taken of a group of police officers moving away from the barricades to allow supporters to move forward toward the building. Activists said there was a clear double standard from this summer, when police raided protesters against racial justice, although no police officers were killed during similar protests in Washington.
Mr Sicknick apparently resisted the mob, along with many other Capitol police officers. Capitol police said he was “physically attached to protesters” when he was hit.
John Krenzel, mayor of South River, NJ, Mr. Sicknick’s hometown, said the officer’s family was shocked by his death.
“The fact that he went to work in the morning and suddenly he is gone. He’s not in. You don’t expect that, ‘said Mr Krenzel.
Mr Sicknick joined the National Guard and was stationed in Saudi Arabia in 1999, according to a statement from the New Jersey head of the National Guard. In 2003, he was sent to Kyrgyzstan. He joined the Capitol Police in 2008.
He was not ashamed to share his opinion. He wrote letters to his congressman, Representative Donald C. Beyer Jr., a Democrat in Virginia, against Mr. Trump’s impeachment, and he advocated gun control.
He also sent letters to officers, stressing the need to protect animals. He spends much of his free time trying to save the dachshunds, his family said in a statement.
Mr Trump did not comment on Mr Sicknick’s death on Twitter before the company terminated his account, citing “the risk of further incitement to violence”. The congressional leaders of the two parties expressed their grief.
Katie Benner and Eric Schmidt contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.