2 Men Charged With Spraying Chemical on US Capitol Police to Remain Behind Bars

A federal judge ruled that two men charged with assaulting police officers during the U.S. Capitol breach earlier this year must remain behind bars pending trial.

Julian Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Tanios, 39, of West Virginia, have been accused of using a chemical spray on police who were defending the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan denied bail for the two men after finding that they pose a threat to the community, The Associated Press reported.

The judge praised the men’s clean records, strong community ties, and family support, but said the actions committed against uniformed police officers on Jan. 6 drove him to make the decision. He added video evidence of the alleged assault leaves “little doubt” about what transpired.

“These two gentlemen are law-abiding, respected individuals of their community and it makes it very difficult for the court to make this conclusion,” Hogan said.”But they still committed this attack on uniformed police officers, and I don’t find a way around that.”

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of natural causes after suffering two strokes a day after the U.S. Capitol breach, is among the officers who were sprayed with the chemical irritant, which was likely to be bear mace. They haven’t been charged in Sicknick’s death.

Sicknick, 42, collapsed and died hours after returning to the office on Jan. 7, said Francisco J. Diaz, the chief medical examiner for Washington. Diaz said the officer suffered two strokes at the base of his brain stem, which was caused by a clot in an artery that provides blood to that part of his brain.

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. (United States Capitol Police via AP)

Khater was seen in a video obtained by investigators reaching into Tanios’ backpack after asking him, “give me that bear [explicit],” according to a criminal complaint (pdf) by the Department of Justice.

“Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet … it’s still early,” Tanios is then heard telling him, as Khater is holding a canister of what prosecutors say is the chemical spray.

A short while later, Khater was spotted in the video while spraying three U.S. Capitol Police officers who immediately retreat from the line and raise their hands to their face. One of the officers was Sicknick.

NTD Photo
Julian Khater (left) is observed holding a canister in his right hand; Khater (right) is again observed spraying a substance in the direction of law enforcement officers on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington D.C. (Courtesy of Department of Justice)

“The officers were temporarily blinded by the substance, were temporarily disabled from performing their duties, and needed medical attention and assistance from fellow officers,” the complaint reads. “They were initially treated with water in an effort to wash out the unknown substance from their eyes and on their face. All three officers were incapacitated and unable to perform their duties for at least 20 minutes or longer while they recovered from the spray.”

So far, about 400 people are facing charges, or have been charged so far in relation to the Jan. 6 incident, with prosecutors predicting at least 100 more people could be charged.