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U.S. Capitol rioter takes plea deal to avoid assault charge

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U.S. Capitol rioter George Tanios pleads guilty to two misdemeanors in the January 6, 2021, attack in a deal to avoid felony charges including assaulting an officer. Photo courtesy of WV Central Regional Jail.
U.S. Capitol rioter George Tanios pleads guilty to two misdemeanors in the January 6, 2021, attack in a deal to avoid felony charges including assaulting an officer. Photo courtesy of WV Central Regional Jail.

July 27 (UPI) -- A U.S. Capitol rioter has taken a plea deal, after he was charged with assaulting a police officer with chemical spray during the attack on Jan. 6, 2021.

George Tanios, 40, of Morgantown, West Virginia, pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally entering the restricted area of the Capitol, as well as disorderly or disruptive conduct on restricted grounds. In exchange for the two misdemeanor guilty pleas, prosecutors dropped felony charges that included assaulting officers with a deadly weapon.

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Tanios was arrested in March 2021, along with Julian Khater of Pennsylvania, for using bear spray to attack Officer Brian Sicknick who collapsed after the riots and died the following night.

A medical examiner later ruled Sicknick died of natural causes and not as a direct result of injuries. The autopsy revealed the 42-year-old officer suffered two strokes cause by a clot in an artery that supplies blood to the brain.

RELATED Feds charge 2 men with assaulting Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick

D.C. Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz also found no evidence Sicknick died from having chemical irritants sprayed on him by protesters, or from any other internal or external injuries.

As part of the plea deal before U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, Tanios admitted to bringing bear repellent and pepper spray to former President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C. Tanios also admitted to videotaping rioters assaulting police as Khater pulled the bear spray from his backpack.

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Hogan set a Dec. 6 sentencing date for Tanios who faces up to a year in prison and a $500,000 fine.

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

Khater is scheduled for trial in October if a deal isn't reached before then.

RELATED Autopsy: Capitol Police officer died of natural causes after pro-Trump riot

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