A major development broke this week in the Federal investigation into what exactly caused the death of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
The below headline from Salon captures what was supposed to have happened:
But providing “clarity” into Sicknick’s death was approximately the opposite of what transpired.
Here’s what we know:
Two men, Julian Khater and George Tanios, have been charged with nine criminal counts for actions taken on January 6th just outside the steps of the U.S. Capitol building. The most serious offense appears to be assault on an officer with a dangerous weapon, arising from Khater’s alleged use of Tanios’s chemical spray to tag Officer Sicknick and two other officers in the face.
It’s not fully clear whether “dangerous weapon” or “deadly weapon” is the apt description. The front page of the criminal complaint describes the assault as only being with a “dangerous weapon”:
The affiant statement section of the filing alleges assault with a “deadly or dangerous weapon.”
The Justice Department ‘s own presumably authoritative website press release stipulates only the charge of assault with a “dangerous weapon“:
In ordinary circumstances, this distinction would be meaningless, since at the legal level, “dangerous” and “deadly” are effectively the same thing on a weapons charge.
But at the narrative level, it means everything. The question of whether the events of January 6th were only “dangerous” versus actually “deadly” is effectively the dividing line between “a situation getting out of line” and “domestic terrorism.”
Examining The Charges
Criminal masterminds, the duo charged are not. Julian Khater, 32, runs a smoothie shop called Frutta Bowls in Penn State’s college town in Pennsylvania. George Tanios, 39, runs a sandwich shop trademarked “Sandwich U” or “King of the Fat Sandwich” in West Virginia. The two men were evidently childhood friends in New Jersey. In May 2020, Tanios appears to have filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
The Million Dollar Question hanging over this trial in both criminal court and the court of public opinion is why these two men have been charged with assault, not murder. Recall that “murder” was both the mainstream media’s and Congress’s unrelenting meme for the first whole month following the events of 1/6, culminating in a full-on impeachment conviction at the House of Representatives.
After Revolver News and other outlets debunked the initial fire extinguisher hoax, The Narrative transitioned from “murdered by MAGA” to “died from injuries caused by MAGA.”
But “died from injuries” is not what the DOJ is alleging. In fact, they strictly and studiously avoid that allegation altogether.
If the FBI and DOJ believed (or thought they could later prove) that Khater’s act of spraying Sicknick contributed to his death, there are any number of charges the DOJ should have filed instead. Those include manslaughter (unintentional murder resulting from extremely reckless disregard for human life) or perhaps negligent homicide (unintentional murder as a result of gross negligence). Even within assault categories, the DOJ appears to be pursuing simple assault (the least serious form, which usually involves minor injury or a limited threat of violence), rather than aggravated assault (a far graver charge, related to assaults concerning serious bodily harm).
So what we have instead is a simple assault case that is marketed as a murder, with stacking charges tantamount to mass murder, and possibly a murder case upside (see below), but no murder actually alleged — at least not yet.
Tanios is facing 60 years in prison, which is considerably more time than for typical first degree murder, despite the fact that Tanios not only did not spray Sicknick (it was Khater who allegedly did so), but the criminal complaint does not allege he even entered the U.S. Capitol building that day. At 39 years of age, if Tanios is found guilty on all counts with no leniency at sentencing, he will leave prison at 99 years old.
Ten weeks after 1/6, there is still no toxicology report, no autopsy results, and no cause of death identified for Officer Sicknick. We are now told that the results of the toxicology report have not been released because they are still incomplete.
But surely, 10 weeks into a process that normally takes 4-6 weeks to finish, the DOJ has at least some internal, preliminary indications of what those toxicology findings are likely to show. It follows that the DOJ is either (1) firewalled from those findings and has filed simple assault charges with the disciplined intent to file superseding murder charges if supported by the toxicology report, or (2) aware that the toxicology report shows no connection between the spray incident and the death, and is deliberately obscuring the court filing langauge and the public’s impression to falsely suggest a Big Reveal will ultimately vindicate their present lack of answers.
Of course, a third, unsightly option remains: that the DOJ is pursuing assault because it does not want to disclose, debate or litigate aspects of the autopsy, toxicology findings or coroner’s report in open court.
To put this in meme, Scenario 1 looks like this:
That is, the toxicology report is holding back the murder charges. If the dam breaks, the murder charges will swamp the assault charges. This is the best case, least unethical scenario for what’s driving the decision-making at FBI/DOJ.
Scenario 2 looks like this:
Here, the FBI/DOJ are holding back the toxicology report to protect The Narrative. And the dam may break, resulting in a flood, or it may crack or leak, resulting in a muddy transition to a still-palatable narrative, but at any rate the disclosures are delayed and The Narrative persists.
And Scenario 3 looks something like this:
We leave the interpretation of this final meme as an exercise for the reader.
Let’s dive into the charging documents and point out some interesting details:
Failure to Provide Video, or a Still of the Video’s “Money Shot”
The crux of the prosecution’s case is that they discovered surveillance video footage, plus corroborating officer body cam footage, showing Khater spraying Sicknick and two other officers with chemical spray. But neither the surveillance video nor the body cam footage has been made publicly unavailable.
While the 11-page criminal complaint and the 65-page FBI Special Agent affidavit both refer to the same six screenshots purporting to be video frames from the surveillance and body cam footage, none of the screenshots show the “money shot” where Khater supposedly sprays the officers.
For completeness, the six screenshots are reproduced below.
Eight figures are provided in the court filings, but two are simply generic social media photos of Tanios not at the Capitol. These are the only images the public has been provided, and may be the only images the public is provided until trial. And we may only hope the DOJ does not move to seal further images or video from public viewing.
The two “action shots” here are Figure Two and Figure Five. Figure Five, however, is a still from the body cam of Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Bagshaw in which Bagshaw sprays Khater, rather than Khater doing the spraying. Therefore, the only relevant action shot is Figure Two.
Since Figure Two has a Where’s Waldo quality – a packed, chaotic shot where you’re looking for a small guy in the background in red, white and blue – here is a red line drawn around Khater.
Khater is alleged to be pointing a canister spray at Officer Chapman, who is standing next to Officer Sicknick, at some undisclosed moment in time before or after the “money shot” where the three officers get sprayed.
The FBI Special Agent affidavit describes these events surrounding Figure Two in a highly revealing way, which gives away both the FBI/DOJ’s problems, and intended solutions, for litigating this case. It’s worth reading the yellow highlights below:
What they are saying is that this Figure 2 video frame depicts Khater “five to eight feet” away holding a canister and possibly spraying it, but a separate set of video frames depict Khater only “a few feet” from the officers as they react to being sprayed in the face.
Unanswered questions leap off the page. The mind boggles, as one struggles to search for a benign explanation:
Why provide the Figure Two video frame, where Khater is “five to eight feet” away and possibly deploying the canister, but not the “money shot” video frames where Khater is just “a few feet” and actually spraying them?
The whole prosecution is based on these key frames from the video. Why not provide the video? And if you’re not going to provide the video, why not at least provide the still frames of the moments Officers Sicknick, Edwards and Chapman “all react, one by one, to something striking them in the face?”
Only a week ago, the FBI publicly disclosed 131 seconds of video surveillance footage purporting to show the “pipe bomb” suspect, in action, as he physically planted explosives outside DNC offices. Why provide that surveillance footage but neither the surveillance footage nor the body cam video here?
It’s not like we are dealing with graphic or facially upsetting content. We now know this spray event happened at approximately 2:23pm, and that Sicknick texted his own brother “that night” (which would be at least several hours after) that while he had been pepper sprayed, he was in good spirits.
The exact words reported: “He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape,” said Ken Sicknick.
If Khater’s Missing Frames show the first time Sicknick was pepper-sprayed, then when was he pepper sprayed a second time? CNN’s original reporting on February 2 seemed to suggest investigators were tracking whether Sicknick’s spray ingestion, if any, may have been of chemicals deployed by fellow officers in the crowd, rather than by protestors from it.
What does the rest of the surveillance footage and body cam video show?
If the FBI and DOJ possessed video footage of Khater spraying Sicknick and the other officers, and that footage is sufficient to warrant 60 years of stacked criminal charges, it would be highly uncharacteristic and unusual for the FBI and DOJ to miss a PR opportunity blitz.
For example, in the “Gretchen Whitmer Kidnapping” plot infiltrated and investigated by the FBI Detroit Field Office then run by now FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington, DC Field Office, prosecutors released to a CNN affiliate a set of videos, photos, and text messages from the defendants to advantage their trial in the court of public opinion.
The freely disclosed videos in the Whitmer Plot even featured the same set of suggestible conspiracy language that gave rise to the DOJ’s “conspiracy” charges here.
In the Whitmer Plot, the public was shown videos with big talk bravado like: “If this shit goes down, okay, if this whole thing, you know, starts to happen, I’m telling you what, dude, I’m taking out as many of those motherf*&kers as I can.”
In the Khater/Tanios “plot,” the conspiracy charge is born of Khater allegedly saying “Give me that bear shit” and Tanios allegedly saying “Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet… it’s still early.” Why do a PR blitz for the Whitmer Plot tape but hide both the video and “money shot” frames from the Khater/Tanios Plot tape?
A charitable interpretation of all this could be that the FBI and DOJ are simply being only moderately unethical, and have deliberately calculated their selective releases to maximize chances of DOJ prosecution rather than public disclosure of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God. In time, the charitable interpretation goes, all of this information will be turned over to the defense attorneys, and possibly to the public, but just not yet – because they want to delay unfavorable disclosures until the last minute possible.
A non-charitable interpretation could be that they straight-up “don’t have the goods” on the video footage, Khater’s connection to the three officers’ spray injuries, the toxicology report’s connection to Officer Sicknick’s actual cause of death, or any of hundreds of lurking variables and unexplained questions still plaguing this case.
Further elements of these filings will be covered in a subsequent installment of this Revolver News investigation into the 1/6 MAGA Capitol Mystery.
But without getting into them at this point, let’s conclude by briefly staring into the abyss between The Actual Allegations we just reviewed and The Narrative that Regime Media continues to pump into the American information stream.
Consider this galling, turgid sludge from The Hill. It was published three days after the charges filed this week, meaning The Narrative is undeterred by The Actual Allegations.
Regime Media’s extreme sensitivities to being called out by a foreign leader – especially Putin – for crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters alleging fraud in an election are touchy because such accusations prod at a very soft underbelly of the U.S. State Department. Deadly Regime Crackdowns on groups asserting democratic disenfranchisement form the key spear of the U.S. State Department’s justification for intervention in Belarus, Myanmar, Venezuela, and of course Russia, among scores of similar historic anecdotes.
With the DOJ’s charges this week being limited to “assault,” and strictly and deliberately avoiding “murder,” there is no excuse for continuing to call the 1/6 events “deadly” — unless “deadly” refers to the Deadly Regime Crackdown on MAGA protesters.
Outlets like The Hill, however, are either clinging to outdated talking points or are holding fast to insinuation that DOJ will ultimately augment this week’s charges:
Like Wiley Coyote running over a cliff and not yet looking down to realize how unmoored his sprint has become from reality, cartoonish speculation continues to support The Narrative in place of actual evidence or a legal allegation from the Justice Department.
$25,000 in damages. That’s dangerous. But deadly? If so, that word appears to have lost its original meaning – and that’s putting it charitably.