West Virginia U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael John Aloi has ordered pre-trial detention for George Tanios, who is facing charges over a January assault on Capitol Police officers including Brian Sicknick, who died soon afterward. Alongside his friend Julian Khater, who is also facing charges, Tanios participated in the January rioting at the U.S. Capitol building, where Trump supporters attempted to forcibly stop the formal certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Tanios and Khater’s charges do not, at present, include an allegation of responsibility for Sicknick’s death. The late officer’s exact cause of death isn’t clear.
A West Virginia magistrate judge has ordered that George Tanios, one of the men charged with assaulting Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, be detained pending trial.https://t.co/lvaegvvjKE
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 22, 2021
It’s not yet clear when exactly that Tanios’s trial might take place, so the length of his stay in prison is uncertain. Discussing a “culture, radicalized by hate,” Judge Aloi commented as follows at a recent hearing in Tanios’s case:
‘We all witnessed it as Americans: Forcing yourself against law enforcement officials that had nothing but bike racks. Why wouldn’t you just turn the other way and go home? The fact that all of them weren’t thinking that – it’s just frightening to me.’
Amidst the rioting, Khater discharged a chemical irritant into the faces of officers, including Sicknick. Tanios, according to prosecutors, originally purchased the irritants, including bear and pepper spray. At the recent hearing, prosecutors “also said they had reason to believe that Tanios’ mother would try to help her son flee the country to her native Lebanon if he is released from custody,” Reuters reports, although Tanios’s mother, who was involved in the proceedings, claimed otherwise.
At the hearing, prosecutor Sarah Wagner also showed footage in which Sicknick, who died the following day, “appears to be attempting to walk off the effects of the pepper spray, rinsing his eyes with more water and pausing at times, while crouched over with his hands on his knees.”
Tanios and Khater are among hundreds of individuals facing criminal charges over their participation in the Capitol rioting, including over one hundred whose charges include assault on law enforcement officers. Some 140 officers were injured during the Trump supporters’ frenzied attack on the Capitol, and according to Capitol Police officers’ union chairman Gus Papathanasiou, these injuries include cracked ribs, “smashed” spinal discs, and a stab wound from a metal fence stake. In the immediate aftermath of the rioting, then-President Trump justified what took place, claiming that “these are the things and events that happen” when a presidential election is stolen — which, of course, did not actually occur, although Trump’s claim otherwise drove the rioters.