FBI Director Christopher Wray refused to disclose details surrounding Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s January death before lawmakers Tuesday.
Media speculation about Sicknick’s death on the day after the Capitol riot fueled Democratic conspiracies perpetuated by legacy outlets. This was primarily from a New York Times report, which initially said Sicknick was killed by a blunt blow from a fire extinguisher.
“There is an ongoing investigation into his death,” Wray explained in response to a question from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking member Chuck Grassley of Iowa. “I have to be careful at this stage because it’s ongoing, not to get out in front of it.”
“So does that mean since the investigation’s going on, you have not determined the exact cause of the death?” Grassley asked.
“That means we can’t yet disclose cause of death at this stage,” Wray responded.
“But you have determined the cause of death?” Grassley pushed.
“I didn’t say that. We’re not at a point where we can disclose or confirm the cause of death,” Wray clarified.
Christopher Wray tells senators that the @FBI cannot disclose Officer Brian Sicknick's cause of death.@ChuckGrassley: “But you have determined the cause of death?”
WRAY: “I didn’t say that. We’re not at a point where we can disclose or confirm a cause of death.” pic.twitter.com/mwC1CapkQq
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) March 2, 2021
The FBI director’s denial of any new details surrounding Sicknick’s death is likely to fuel new conspiracies over the officer’s passing, which was politicized by Democrats in pursuit of impeachment against now-former President Donald Trump.
The false narrative that Sicknick was killed by a fatal hit from a fire extinguisher amid the chaos first emerged from a piece in the New York Times published on Jan. 8, headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.”
“[Pro]-Trump supporters … overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials,” the paper reported two days after the riot.
The paper later quietly corrected its reporting with an “update” pinned to the top of the page as the Democrats’ impeachment proceedings wrapped up, weeks after subsequent reporting had already debunked its original claims that Sicknick’s death came as a consequence of a fire extinguisher.
“UPDATE: 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 page now reads.
The update was published on Feb. 26. On Feb. 2., CNN published a story in which medical examiners ruled out the idea Sicknick “sustained any blunt force trauma,” let alone by a fire extinguisher. ProPublica published a story casting doubt on the New York Times’ fire extinguisher story far sooner, on Jan. 8, with comments from Sicknick’s brother Ken, who told the paper Brian texted the family hours after the attack that he had been pepper-sprayed but was doing fine.
House Democrats, however, cited the Times’ unproven theory in their impeachment pretrial memo.
“Insurrectionists killed a Capitol police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher,” Democrats claimed.
Officer Sicknick’s mother, Gladys, threw more cold water on the fire extinguisher conspiracy last week, telling the Daily Mail that they so far believe her son might have suffered a stroke.
“He wasn’t hit on the head, no,” Gladys Sicknick told the Daily Mail. “We think he had a stroke, but we don’t know anything for sure. … We’d love to know what happened.”