A New Jersey man accused of attacking U.S. Capitol Police Officers Brian Sicknick and Caroline Edwards in the melee in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 has pleaded guilty to assault.
Julian Elie Khater, 33, admitted Thursday that he unleashed a can of chemical spray on three police officers during a confrontation on Capitol grounds that day. Those officers are identified in court filings by their initials B.S., C.E., and B.C.; Sicknick and Edwards have been identified as two of the victims.
Sicknick died the day after the Jan. 6 attack. An autopsy determined that he died from multiple strokes he suffered after hours-long confrontations at the Capitol, and prosecutors have not linked Khater or his co-defendant, George Tanios, to his death.
Edwards provided testimony before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, vividly recalling “hours and hours of hand-to-hand combat” and Sicknick looking “ghostly pale” after being sprayed by rioters.
According to prosecutors, Khater and Tanios drove together to Washington on Jan. 6. Tanios, after communicating with Khater, purchased two canisters of bear spray and two canisters of pepper spray ahead of time. They joined the mob of Donald Trump supporters heading toward the Capitol following a rally at the Ellipse and faced off against officers trying to hold back the crowd.
Prosecutors have said that Khater and Tanios had discussed spraying police with chemicals, citing open source video.
“Give me that bear shit,” Khater allegedly told Tanios.
“Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet… it’s still early,” Tanios reportedly replied.
Khater could be heard later saying: “They just fucking sprayed me.”
According to court documents, Khater had reached into Tanios’ backpack and retrieved a white canister of bear spray.
“Khater then walked through the crowd to within a few steps of a bike rack barrier being used by a line of law enforcement officers attempting to secure the Capitol and its grounds,” the DOJ said in a press release Thursday. “Khater stood directly across from officers. At 2:23 p.m., people in the mob began pulling on the bike rack barrier using ropes and their hands to pull the rack away. Seconds later, from less than eight feet away, Khater sprayed pepper spray from a canister in his right hand at the officers.”
Khater allegedly sprayed Sicknick first, who retreated. He then sprayed Edwards “directly in the eyes from only a few feet away,” according to the DOJ. She, too, retreated, and required the assistance from another officer because she was unable to see.
“Khater then sprayed a Metropolitan Police Department officer, identified in court documents as ‘Officer D.C.,’ directly in the face,” the DOJ said. “That officer also immediately retreated from the line.”
All three officers suffered bodily injury from the pepper spray attack, according to prosecutors.
In a hearing on Thursday before Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, Khater pleaded guilty to two charges of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon. Khater, who has been in custody since his arrest in March of 2021, faces a potential 20 years behind bars for each charge. The plea agreement contemplates a sentence of 78 to 97 months.
Khater will pay $2,000 in restitution toward the estimated $2.7 million in damage to the Capitol. However, while general restitution clauses have become par for the course in Jan. 6 plea agreements, Khater’s plea includes a specific restitution component.
“You also agree to pay restitution to all victims who suffered bodily injury as a result of your conduct on Jan. 6, 2021,” Hogan, a Ronald Reagan appointee, said at Thursday’s plea agreement hearing.
Hogan set sentencing for Dec. 13.
Tanios pleaded guilty in July to a pair of trespassing and disorderly conduct misdemeanors. He is set to be sentenced on Dec. 6.
[Images via FBI court filing.]
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