WASHINGTON, D.C.—A Capitol Police officer hurt while trying to defend the seat of the United States government from pro-Trump rioters died late Thursday.
Brian Sicknick passed away at around 9:30 p.m. after he “was injured while physically engaging with protesters” who had stormed the Capitol Building a day earlier, Capitol Police said in a statement. The New York Times reports law-enforcement sources said Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher during the rioters’ rampage in the halls on Wednesday after President Trump’s rally. “He returned to his division office and collapsed,” a Capitol Police statement said. “He was taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.”
The officer’s family had rushed to the hospital to be by his side earlier on Thursday evening. His brother, Craig Sicknick, told The Daily Beast that the family had learned he was on a ventilator with a blood clot on his brain and that “it did not look good.”
Sicknick said his brother graduated as a Capitol cop two days before the inauguration of President Barack Obama, and “always tried to do what was right.”
“He worked a lot of overtime, and he was on during this mess,” he told The Daily Beast.
Sicknick is the fifth fatality tied to the insurrection. He was a former Air National Guardsman who served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom before joining the police force, his brother said.
On Friday morning, CNN reported prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington were planning to open a federal murder investigation into Sicknick’s death.
Footage of the crowd Wednesday showed many participants with Blue Lives Matter and Back the Blue flags and gear, the slogans of groups that have been fierce supporters of Trump and supposed supporters of cops who have been maligned with accusations of police brutality.
Wednesday’s carnage was defended by Chicago’s police union president, John Catanzara, who justified the rioters’ actions and called the Capitol siege a mere “inconvenience.” In an interview with WBEZ, the Fraternal Order of Police chief claimed the attack on America’s seat of government was “very different than what happened all across this country all summer long in Democratic-ran cities and nobody had a problem with that”—referring to the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred in response to police brutality and the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Four others died in the riot, including one woman who was shot by police while trying to break into the House chamber. Three others died from “medical emergencies,” including an Alabama sales representative who tweeted COVID-19 cure hoaxes and a Georgia woman who was reportedly crushed in the crowd.
Benjamin Philips, 50, from Pennsylvania; Kevin Greeson, 55, from Alabama; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, from Georgia died on Wednesday after suffering “medical emergencies” while “on the grounds of the Capitol,” Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said.
Ashli Babbitt, 35, was fatally shot by a plainclothes Capitol Police cop after climbing through a broken window and trying to enter the House chamber. More than 50 Capitol and D.C. police were injured during the riot as Congress met to confirm Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, including several who were hospitalized. All four deaths are under investigation.
While authorities haven’t provided details on the medical emergencies, Greeson’s son said his father died from a heart attack mid-protest. Boyland died after being crushed by the crowd, according to one report, while Philips had a stroke, fellow protesters said.
“My dad had a heart attack yesterday and sadly passed away,” Kyler Greeson said in a statement. “We all loved him so much. He made me the man I am today. Always going...to car shows to support me and to enjoy the cars together. Him, my brother, and I would ride motorcycles together and have a great time. He was such a great man we all miss you so much. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.”
The New York Times reported Greeson collapsed while speaking to his wife on the phone among a crowd of fellow Trump supporters on the west side of the Capitol building. Emergency personnel rushed over to help the father-of-five and began to perform chest compressions—but were unable to revive him, the report states.
His wife, Kristie Greeson, told the Times her husband—who suffered from high blood pressure—was excited to attend the Trump rally because he believed the election had been stolen from the president.
“He felt like it was a monumental event in his mind,” she said, noting her husband left their home on Tuesday and spent the night with a friend in Virginia. “I didn’t want him to go. I didn’t feel like it was safe.”
Greeson’s wife also noted that her husband was a “political junkie” who “saw the good and bad in Trump.” His social media accounts confirmed his affinity for the president.
In one July 28 tweet, Greeson falsely claimed, “Hydroxychloroquine zinc and z-pac works to cure you from Covid-19” before adding, “Trump 2020...Twitter sucks!” (There is no conclusive evidence that zithromax and azithromycin, used to treat various infections, and hydroxychloroquine, used to treat or prevent malaria, can cure COVID-19.)
Greeson only posted six times on Twitter since he joined in 2019. While most are tweets supporting Trump’s 2020 campaign, the 55-year-old also called former Ohio Gov. John Kasich—an outspoken critic of Trump—an “idiot.”
According to his LinkedIn, Greeson had been a senior sales representative at Allied Mineral Products in Athens for the last five months and had over 20 years of experience in “safety management and sales management.” He had previously worked at Goodyear Textile Mill as a safety training coordinator for 21 years until 2006.
Without confirming Boyland’s name, police said a woman was crushed to death among the crowd at the Capitol, according to Axios.
In an interview with News 11 Alive, one of Boyland’s sisters described her as a “really happy, wonderful person” and shared a photo of her smiling with a tattoo across her chest that says, “Beautiful Disaster.”
The Kennesaw, Georgia resident had a slew of run-ins with the law. Court records indicate she pleaded guilty to heroin and cocaine charges as well as receiving stolen property in 2011. Boyland was also charged with heroin possession or distribution at least four other times in Fulton and Cobb counties, in addition to battery charges, obstruction of law enforcement, and trespass over the years.
On her Facebook account, Boyland shared posts from far-right activist group Project Veritas and videos of Trump’s rallies. In one post, she reshared anti-vaxxer and coronavirus conspiracy theories. “I understand Covid can be deadly or very dangerous for SOME people, but so are peanuts, strawberries, and so is shellfish,” the post says.
In another post shared on Jan. 3, Boyland falsely said that all hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores in D.C. would be closed until mid-January to prevent Trump supporters from converging on the city.
“For all the Patriots heading to D.C. bring EXTRA food, water, blankets, supplies, and have a plan of where to sleep. Patriots not going to D.C. please Echo this info,” the post said.
Philips, a Pennsylvania computer programmer, died of a stroke, just hours after driving a white van to the rally and coordinating transport for several of his fellow Trump supporters, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
According to the Inquirer, he’d said before the protest, “It seems like the first day of the rest of our lives, to be honest… They should name this year Zero because something will happen.”
According to a LinkedIn matching his name, Philips was the founder of TRUMPAROO.com, a now-defunct website for MAGA supporters, and had graduated with a degree in computer science from Temple University. He told the Inquirer earlier this week that he named the site after a stuffed kangaroo he made, which had orange hair and red, white, and blue boxing gloves—and was meant to resemble Trump.
Gordy Smith, a protester who traveled with Philips to D.C., said he started calling Philips when the 50-year-old didn’t show up to the group’s meeting post at 6 p.m to return home. Finally, Smith told the Inquirer, a police officer picked up the phone and said he’d suffered a stroke and died at George Washington University Hospital.
“Everyone was shocked,” Smith said. “It was a very somber drive home.”
Babbitt, an Ocean Beach, California resident and a 14-year Air Force veteran, had posted in support of the violent QAnon conspiracy theory and was unrelenting in her support for the president. In total, she sent 21 tweets referencing the QAnon slogan, starting in February 2020. She also appeared to embrace conspiracy theories that hospitals are claiming fake coronavirus patients.
Her husband, Aaron Babbitt, told KUSI he didn’t travel with her to D.C. and was due to pick her up from the airport on Friday.
“Ashli was both loyal as well as extremely passionate about what she believed in,” Babbitt’s brother-in-law Justin Jackson told KNSD-TV. “She loved this country and felt honored to have served in our Armed Forces.”
Even as the deaths drilled home the full weight of the violence that overtook the Capitol a day earlier, some Trump supporters who watched those events unfold were unshaken in their belief that a nonexistent enemy was to blame.
Tiffany Bullock, who had traveled to D.C. for Wednesday’s “Stop the Steal” rally with her friend Marsha Russell, said she was crushed to learn of the Capitol Police officer’s passing.
“If we weren’t patriots, that wouldn’t affect us,” Bullock told The Daily Beast.
Russell said she was sure it wasn’t really Trump supporters who caused such destruction at the Capitol.
“I believe with all my heart there were paid antifa or paid people coming in to stir this up,” Russell said. “I don’t believe that the Trump supporters really broke through and did all the damage... I watched really carefully some of the videos. They didn’t look like Trump supporters. They were all prepared with gas masks and helmets... I think it was infiltrated.”