A West Virginia man who was charged last year with taking part in a high-profile assault on Officer Brian D. Sicknick during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two misdemeanor charges after reaching a deal with federal prosecutors.
The man, George Tanios, was initially accused of working with a friend, Julian Khater, to douse Officer Sicknick with chemical spray at a key moment in the riot, as a pro-Trump mob was overrunning the police at bike rack barriers on the west side of the Capitol.
While early reports suggested that Officer Sicknick died of his injuries one day after the attack, an autopsy later determined that he had died of natural causes, after suffering multiple strokes that were not directly related to the violence at the Capitol.
At a hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, Mr. Tanios, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of illegally entering a restricted area and a second count of disorderly conduct after prosecutors dropped the assault charges against him. He will face a maximum sentence of a year in prison on each of the misdemeanor counts at a proceeding scheduled for December.
Even though Officer Sicknick’s death was ultimately found to be unrelated to the mob attack at the Capitol, his death became a symbol of the violence that many others officers suffered on Jan. 6. Prosecutors say that about 140 officers were injured during the riot, some of them severely.
In court papers filed last year, Mr. Tanios was accused of having had a canister of chemical spray in his backpack when he and Mr. Khater marched with the mob on the Capitol. Prosecutors said that as Mr. Khater took the spray from Mr. Tanios’ pack, Mr. Tanios told him, “Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet,” adding, “It’s still early.”
Minutes later, prosecutors say, Mr. Khater walked up to the line of barricades outside the Capitol and discharged the spray at Officer Sicknick and two of his colleagues, who were five to eight feet away. The officers immediately retreated from the line, court papers say, and rushed off to find water to wash out their eyes.
The Justice Department has extended a plea offer to Mr. Khater as well, though he would have to plead guilty to two separate felony counts of assaulting police officers. Under the terms of the offer, which Mr. Khater has not yet accepted, he would face a recommended range of 78 to 97 months in prison.