Judges grant bail to man alleged to have chemically sprayed the officer who died after the Jan. 6 riot

Judges grant bail to man alleged to have chemically sprayed the officer who died after the Jan. 6 riot
Brian Sicknick

West Virginia resident George Tanios, one of the many people who is facing criminal charges in connection with the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building, has been accused of chemically spraying Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick — who died the following day after suffering two strokes. The 39-year-old Tanios has been incarcerated, but this week, a three-judge panel ruled that he should be released on bond.

This was a departure from May, when Tanios' request for bail was denied. This week, the three-judge panel decided that the trial court "clearly erred in its individualized assessment of appellant's dangerousness," according to Courthouse News reporter Samantha Hawkins.

"The record reflects that Tanios has no past felony convictions, no ties to any extremist organizations, and no post-January 6 criminal behavior that would otherwise show him to pose a danger to the community within the meaning of the Bail Reform Act," the panel said.

In March, Tanios (who owns a sandwich shop in Morgantown, West Virginia) was arrested along with State College, Pennsylvania, resident and fellow Donald Trump supporter Julian Khater — and authorities alleged that Tanios and Khater worked together when they attacked Sicknick and other police officers with chemical spray. The other officers Tanios and Khater are accused of chemically spraying are Caroline Edwards and Damian Chapman.

According to Hawkins, "Body-cam and other footage from the riot show that the men walked up through the crowds to where insurrectionists were pulling bike racks used to shield the Capitol Building, and then sprayed Officer Sicknick in the face from five to eight feet away. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards and Metropolitan Police Officer Damian Chapman were sprayed as well."

Hawkins notes that a transcript of January 6 footage quotes Khater as saying, "Give me that bear shit" as he reached into Tanios' backpack. And Tanios, according to the transcript, responded, "Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet…. It's still early."

The criminal complaint against Tanios and Khater, however, does not accuse them of causing Sicknick's death.

Hawkins reports, "Officer Edwards said the spray left her with lasting injuries under her eyes, and she, along with Chapman, described the substance as 'stronger than any version of pepper spray they had been exposed to during their training.' The chemical irritant incapacitated the officers for over 20 minutes as they covered their faces and ran to find water."

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