Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick lies in honor in Rotunda
Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died from injuries sustained while defending the Capitol from a violent mob on Jan. 6, laid in honor in the Rotunda late Tuesday night as a tribute to his service.
Sicknick’s former colleagues in the Capitol Police force lined the Capitol’s east front steps — where rioters stormed the building and violently cracked the center door nearly four weeks to the day — as his remains were brought into the Rotunda.
Roughly three dozen officers then stood in a circle around the pedestal where an urn holding Sicknick’s remains and a framed American flag were placed. And later, one by one, they lined up to salute their fallen colleague as an honor guard stood watch.
Congressional leaders of both parties stopped in front of Sicknick’s remains to pay their respects, as did President Biden and first lady Jill Biden in a surprise visit from the White House.
Members of Sicknick’s family were also in attendance, with some placing their hands on the wooden urn in grief.
The rare honor in the Capitol Rotunda comes about a month after the insurrection by former President Trump’s supporters who were trying to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory. Sicknick, who served in the Capitol Police force for 12 years, was hit with a fire extinguisher and died in the hospital a day after the attack.
“May his memory live forever as a model of service to our nation, selflessness in the line of duty, and courage in the face of danger,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor ahead of the ceremony.
There will also be a congressional tribute in the Capitol Rotunda late Wednesday morning before Sicknick, who served in the Air National Guard before joining the Capitol Police, is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Sicknick is only the fifth person in U.S. history to lay in honor — the designation for private citizens who aren’t government or military officials — in the Capitol Rotunda. People who served in government or military leadership roles receive the designation of lying in state.
“Knowing our personal tragedy and loss is shared by our nation brings hope for healing,” Sicknick’s family and his longtime partner, Sandra Garza, said in a statement.
The four others who have lain in honor in the Rotunda were Capitol Police officer Jacob Chestnut and detective John Gibson, who died in the line of duty from the July 1998 shooting in the Capitol; civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005; and the Rev. Billy Graham in 2018.
The tribute for Sicknick comes as the Capitol Police leadership is under scrutiny for its failure to prepare its rank-and-file officers and call in the National Guard ahead of Jan. 6, despite knowing days in advance that white supremacists and violent military groups posed a threat to the Electoral College certification proceedings.
Two other police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 attack also died in the aftermath. Howard Liebengood, a Capitol Police officer, and Jeffrey Smith, a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer, both died of suicide.
At least 140 Capitol Police and MPD officers were injured, including some with severe trauma like brain injuries, smashed spinal discs and one officer expected to lose an eye.
Acting MPD Chief Robert Contee estimated during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee last week that “many more” officers had minor injuries like bruises and scratches, but didn’t submit formal documentation reports.
The acting Capitol Police chief, Yogananda Pittman, also testified last week before the House Appropriations Committee about the security failures on Jan. 6 and offered a formal apology on behalf of the department.
“We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target,” Pittman testified. “The department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough.”
Aside from Sicknick, four other people died as a direct result of the attack on the Capitol: an insurrectionist who was shot by a Capitol Police officer while trying to breach the House chamber and three others who died of medical emergencies.