WASHINGTON — Brian D. Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died from injuries sustained during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, lay in honor on Wednesday in the building he once protected, his remains carried out for a final time through doors still shattered by the rampage.
Members of his family, lawmakers and Capitol Police officers gathered in the Rotunda for a somewhat socially distanced service for Officer Sicknick, the fifth person to lie in honor at the Capitol and only the fifth member of the force to die in the line of duty.
“Blessed are the peacekeepers like Brian,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader. “Let us be peacekeepers now in his memory.”
Officer Sicknick died after clashing with the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol last month, sending lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence fleeing in an attack that shook the nation and brought new scrutiny to the Capitol Police force. The chief, as well as the top security officials in the House and the Senate, have all resigned in the aftermath of the riot, and the acting chief has apologized to Congress for the department’s missteps, saying it was woefully underprepared for an onslaught it knew in advance was possible.
Politics were notably absent from the ceremonies honoring Officer Sicknick, which began Tuesday, when President Biden traveled to the Capitol to pay homage. They continued on Wednesday as Vice President Kamala Harris and lawmakers in both parties visited his remains under the Capitol dome, in the same spot where throngs of rioters marauded last month.
Mr. Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi made no mention of former President Donald J. Trump’s imminent impeachment trial, in which he faces a charge of “incitement of insurrection” for the assault that killed Officer Sicknick. Instead, they vowed not to forget the fallen officer.
“We must be vigilant as what President Lincoln referred to as the harsh artillery of time. We will never forget,” Ms. Pelosi said during the ceremony, standing before Officer Sicknick’s remains and an American flag, placed upon a stand crafted for the ceremonies. “Each day when members enter the Capitol, this temple of democracy, we will remember his sacrifice and then others that day who fought so hard to protect the Capitol and the Congress.”
A veteran of the Air National Guard from South River, N.J., Officer Sicknick joined the Capitol Police in 2008. Mr. Schumer said his colleagues would describe Officer Sicknick, a New Jersey Devils fan, as “the quiet rock of his unit” and a dependable officer who never missed a radio call. He would not have liked his new spotlight, Mr. Schumer said, adding that he would have been the first “to puncture the somber moment with his sharp sense of humor.”
Mourning the loss of two other officers who committed suicide after defending the Capitol on Jan. 6 — which has only sharpened the spotlight on the department — he reminded officers and staff of the mental health resources available to them.
Other lawmakers and top officials attended the ceremony, including the top Republican leaders, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California; Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III; and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington.
In separate statements, Mr. McCarthy and Mr. McConnell expressed gratitude for Officer Sicknick’s heroism. Mr. McCarthy said Congress joined “together in anguish and appreciation” on Wednesday. Mr. McConnell called Officer Sicknick “the true patriot.”
“Four weeks ago, the Rotunda was strewn with the debris of an insurrectionist mob,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Today, it is adorned in solemn thanksgiving for the sacrifice of a hero.”
Among other members of Congress in attendance was Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican who was facing ire from members of her party for joining Democrats in voting to impeach Mr. Trump. She paid her respects to Officer Sicknick alongside Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the fifth-ranking Democrat.
Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, for whom the ceremony bore some personal significance, joined them in the crowd.
Mr. Scalise, the No. 2 Republican, was shot and gravely wounded at his party’s congressional baseball team practice in 2017. Two members of his Capitol Police security detail were also injured as they fired at the gunman. When Mr. Scalise returned to the House floor three months later, he told one of the officers, “You are my hero — you saved my life.”
Stephen Mallory, a security aide on the Capitol Police force who knew Officer Sicknick as a quiet and laid back “nice guy,” said he appreciated that the events were a break from the regular politics on Capitol Hill.
“It wasn’t Democrats against the Republicans,” he said. “Everybody came together to show respect to the fallen officer.”
Officer Sicknick, 42, was among only a handful of people who have lain in honor at the Capitol, a distinction reserved for private citizens, while government officials, most recently Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lie in state. The first two people to lie in honor at the Capitol were also members of the Capitol Police force, Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson, who were killed in the line of duty in 1998.
Officer Chestnut’s wife was on hand on Wednesday to honor Officer Sicknick in the Rotunda.
As his remains left the Capitol for the final time, Officer Sicknick was met by scores of Capitol Police officers, saluting the hearse as it made its way toward Arlington National Cemetery, where he was to be interred.
“The family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick thanks the congressional leadership for bestowing this historic honor on our fallen American hero,” his partner, Sandra Garza, and family said in a statement before the ceremonies. “Knowing our personal tragedy and loss is shared by our nation brings hope for healing.”
At least 183 people have been charged in connection to the Capitol riot, and the F.B.I. continues to search for those who assaulted law enforcement officers on Jan. 6.
Officer Sicknick was “injured while physically engaging with protesters,” after which he returned to his division office, the Capitol Police said. There, Officer Sicknick collapsed and later died in the hospital.
Gus Papathanasiou, the Capitol Police Union chairman, has said nearly 140 Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police officers were injured in the assault. Some were not issued helmets, and one officer was stabbed with a metal fence stake. Another has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal disks, and a third is going to lose his eye, Mr. Papathanasiou said in a statement.
“The officers are angry, and I don’t blame them,” he said. “The entire executive team failed us, and they must be held accountable. Their inaction cost lives.”
Source: NYT > U.S. > Politics