The girlfriend of a US Capitol Police officer who died one day after battling a mob two years ago has sued former President Donald Trump for his “incendiary” rhetoric that fuelled his supporters to storm the halls of Congress.
Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, died after suffering multiple strokes hours after sparring with a mob that broke into the Capitol on 6 January 2021. A medical examiner determined that he died of natural causes.
A lawsuit from his longtime partner Sandra Garza and Mr Sicknick’s family estate largely echoes similar lawsuits and investigations into Mr Trump and his allies, accused of mounting a campaign of lies about the 2020 presidential election in an attempt to overturn the outcome and drive his supporters to violently reject the results.
The lawsuit requests $10m in damages to be paid by each of the named defendants, which also include two alleged participants in the insurrection.
“Although it is beyond question Defendant Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, he still remains unwilling to accept defeat,” according to the lawsuit. “He lied to his followers by, among other things, telling them that the certification of Joe Biden’s election was a ‘coup’ and that their country was being stolen from them. He filed dozens of frivolous lawsuits, all of which substantively failed. And he tried to intimidate state officials, none of whom caved to the pressure.”
Running out of both options and time, Mr Trump rallied his supporters in Washington DC, some of whom openly discussed their violent plans, motivated in part by Mr Trump’s enthusiastic support to upend the election, according to the lawsuit.
Mr Trump’s actions put the lives of Sicknick and hundreds of other officers on the Capitol grounds in mortal danger as Mr Trump watched the events “unfold on live television from the safety of the White House,” the lawsuit alleges.
“Nothing can return Officer Sicknick to his fiancee or his family, but this lawsuit is an important part of the process of holding those who caused his death accountable,” according to a statement from attorney Matt Kaiser.
Roughly 900 people have been charged by federal prosecutors in connection with the attack.
Among them, approximately 278 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, including approximately 95 people charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.
Law enforcement agencies estimate that 140 police officers were assaulted during the attack, including about 80 members of the Capitol Police and 60 from Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department.
Sicknick was among three officers who died in the aftermath.
Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood and DC officer Jeffrey Smith both killed themselves days after the attack after facing off against rioters.
Two men were charged with assaulting Sicknick with an unknown chemical spray during the attack. Both have pleaded guilty.
On 6 December, Mr Sicknick’s family members were among several recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor which broadly recognised law enforcement officers who protected the Capitol, its staff and elected officials on 6 January, 2021.
Twenty-one House Republicans voted against awarding law enforcement the Congressional Medal of Honor, and far-right members of Congress and Republican officials across the US have sought to downplay or celebrate the violence in the halls of Congress that day.