Judge rules that a Capitol protester accused of attacking police with bear spray will stay in jail

Capitol riot
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021.

  • A man accused of carrying bear spray to attack police officers on January 6 will stay in jail.
  • A federal judge ruled Monday that George Tanios will be detained ahead of his trial.
  • Tanios’ friends and family members testified on his behalf, saying he was kind and non-violent.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A federal judge lambasted a West Virginia man accused of carrying and using bear spray to attack Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick during the January 6 insurrection before ruling the defendant would stay in jail ahead of his trial.

In a Monday court hearing, prosecutors revealed new video of Sicknick and other officers reacting to being sprayed during the pro-Trump siege earlier this year.

George Tanios of Morgantown, West Virginia, and Julian Khater of State College, Pennsylvania, were arrested on March 14 and charged with conspiring to injure officers and assaulting federal officers, among other charges relating to their participation in the January 6 attack, according to the Department of Justice.

The agency said the two men were seen in video footage working together to “assault law enforcement officers with an unknown chemical substance by spraying officers directly in the face and eyes.”

In court Monday, the Justice Department showed video of Sicknick and two other officers reacting to allegedly being sprayed by Khater, according to CNN. One video reportedly captures the three officers being sprayed, while another captures Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards saying, “I got it right in the eye,” the outlet reported.

Sicknick, 42, died one day after the riot. He was hospitalized following the attack with injuries he sustained during the chaos, but investigators have not released an official cause of death, nor have they tied the alleged bear spray incident to his death.

During the investigation, law enforcement officials discovered video of Khater asking Tanios to “give me that bear s*it, according to the criminal affidavit. Tanios reportedly responds, “Hold on, hold on, not yet…it’s still early.” Khater then retrieves a canister from Tanios’ backpack and walks to an area within “a few steps” of the police perimeter, legal documents said.

The video reportedly shows Khater aiming a canister in the direction of the officers while “moving his arm from side to side.” Court documents said Capitol Police Officers Sicknick, Edwards, and Metropolitan Police Department Officer D. Chapman were all standing within a few feet of Khater and all reacted to being sprayed in the face, retreating and bringing their “hands to their faces and rushing to find water to wash out their eyes.”

Magistrate Judge Michael John Aloi told the courtroom Monday it was hard for him to “look at this as anything other than an assault on this nation’s heart,” according to The Daily Beast.

“Why would you not just turn the other way and go home?” Aloi reportedly said. “The fact that all of them weren’t thinking about that is just frightening to me. And that was a choice. Choices all along the way,” Aloi said during Tanios’ hearing.

Aloi’s decision to detain Tanios ahead of his trial came after more than half a dozen witnesses, including Tanios’ former employees, friends, and family members, were called by the defendant’s legal team and told the court Tanios was non-violent, the Beast reported. His sister, Maria Boutros reportedly testified that her brother was a “jokester who worked too many hours” and had never previously been in legal trouble.

“We have no doubt that Mr. Tanios’ family loves him very much, but we would just point out that these family and community ties were in place before he committed these crimes that he’s accused of,” said Assistant US Attorney Sarah Wagner on Monday.

Aloi noted that Tanios appears to have bought the bear spray prior to the event in DC, according to CNN. The outlet also reported that his co-defendant, Khater, who remains in jail, had spoken to the FBI about Tanios, confirming the alleged plan to obtain bear and pepper spray prior to the rally.

“They were supporting a president who would not accept that he was defeated in an election,” CNN reported Aloi said. “We’ve created this culture, radicalized by hate…to refuse to accept the result of the democratic process.”

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