The New York Times quietly corrected a major month-old story as the Senate impeachment trial came to a close last week. The article previously claimed a police officer was beaten to death by a fire extinguisher during the January Capitol mayhem. It now appears that is false, but the Times didn’t correct its article until the impeachment trial was nearly over.
The article, headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage,” now prominently features an “update” at the top of the page.
“New information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol police,” the note reads, without a concession or apology from the Times for perpetuating a conspiracy about Sicknick’s death that Democrats weaponized to pursue a second impeachment of Donald Trump.
Capitol Police announced the 42-year-old police officer had passed away on the evening of Jan. 7, one day after a horde of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol complex to protest congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. Subsequent investigation by medical examiners, however, revealed little indication Sicknick had truly died after being “struck by a fire extinguisher,” as previously reported.
On Feb. 2, CNN reported investigators said it’s unclear why Sicknick collapsed the night of the riots, and failed to find signs the officer “sustained any blunt force trauma,” let alone by a fire extinguisher. A more likely theory being considered by examiners, according to CNN, was that Sicknick suffered a delayed reaction turned fatal to a chemical irritant such as pepper spray or bear spray used by the crowd.
“But investigators reviewing video of the officer’s time around the Capitol haven’t been able to confirm that in tape that has been recovered so far,” the outlet added.
On Jan. 8, ProPublica reported Sicknick’s brother, Ken, said Brian texted the family hours after the attack, relaying he had been pepper-sprayed but was doing fine.
“He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape,” Ken told the outlet. “Apparently he collapsed in the Capitol and they resuscitated him using CPR.”
Although ample such evidence publicly available by Feb. 2 discredited the Times’ fire extinguisher theory, this didn’t stop Democrats from seizing on the gruesome conspiracy to amplify their narrative. The Times did not issue an update to its incorrect article until the impeachment trial began to wrap up. The impeachment concluded Feb. 13, more than a week after public information showed the Sicknick narrative Democrats used in their case was materially untrue.
In fact, it still remains unclear how exactly officer Sicknick died. According to ProPublica, “the family got word that Brian Sicknick had a blood clot and had had a stroke” the day after the riot. “A ventilator was keeping him alive.”
“Many details regarding Wednesday’s events and the direct causes of Brian’s injuries remain unknown, and our family asks the public and the press to respect our wishes in not making Brian’s passing a political issue,” Ken told Fox News two days after the riot.
Those wishes went unheard by Democrats.
“Officer Sicknick is a martyr for democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Feb. 4, following Sicknick lying in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.
Democrats cited the initial Times report in their pretrial memo that apparently falsely claimed “insurrectionists killed a Capitol police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”
President Joe Biden repeated the unverified claim Sicknick was killed by Capitol rioters in the first line of his statement about his predecessor’s second acquittal.
“It was nearly two weeks ago that Jill and I paid our respects to Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who laid in honor in the Rotunda after losing his life protecting the Capitol from a riotous, violent mob on January 6, 2021,” Biden said.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 14, 2021
A final report by medical examiners about the causes of Sicknick’s death is not yet public, and may not be yet completed.