2 Capitol rioters' attack on police was 'premeditated,' prosecutors say

Capitol Hill police salute the passing of the funeral hearse on Sunday for slain Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

April 27 (UPI) -- Prosecutors argued in a Tuesday bail hearing that two U.S. Capitol rioters' alleged assault on police officers was "premeditated."

The two defendants, Julian Khater, 32, of State College, Pa., and George Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, W.Va., were charged last month with the attack on Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick in the riot.


The 42-year-old officer of over 12 years, died the day after the riot of natural causes rather than as a direct result of injuries and succumbed to fatal strokes caused by a clot in an artery that supplies blood to the brain, District of Columbia medical examiner Francisco Diaz said last week in his autopsy.

The two suspects were "lying in wait" to help break officers' defensive line in the breach at the Capitol, assistant prosecutors argued at the hearing Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C.

RELATED Biden honors slain Capitol officer: 'When will defies fear, that is heroism'

Khater and Tanios' actions were "premediated violence at point-blank" range, U.S. Attorney Gilead Light argued. "There was no more severe conduct during this riot," referring to other assaults during the riot.


Joseph Tacopina, an attorney for Khater, argued that rather than being "premeditated" his client acted in self-defense to chemical sprays officers used to disperse rioters, Bloomberg reported.

"He did it instinctively, immediately after he'd been sprayed with some substance himself," Tacopina said.

RELATED College student charged with hitting officer during Capitol siege

Tacopina added that Khater used pepper spray, not the more potent bear spray the government alleged he used in its complaint.

Prosecutors have said Tanios purchased highly toxic bear repellant and pepper spray the day before traveling to Washington, D.C., but Light said they only used the bear spray during the riot.

Still, Light questioned why the suspects needed bear spray to go to the capital if they thought it would be a peaceful rally.

RELATED Slain Capitol Police officer to lie in honor in Capitol Rotunda

"Why are they buying bear spray to go to D.C.?" Light argued. "There are no bears in downtown D.C."

Tacopina proposed a $15 million bond package, secured by five properties Khater's family members own as part of release request.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan has not ruled on requests for pre-trial release, but set another hearing for May 6.

The pro-Trump mob delayed certification of Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden on Jan. 6. Four participants died the siege and Sicknick died a day later. Two other officers involved died of suicide in the days following.


Approximately 140 Capitol and Metropolitan Police officers were injured, the Capitol Police officers union said in a statement to WUSA9 earlier this year.

Several lawmakers also tested positive for COVID-19 following the Capitol siege.

Latest Headlines