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New York Times retracts claim that Trump supporter killed Capitol officer with fire extinguisher

Police on Capitol Hill (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
February 17, 2021

On Tuesday, The New York Times corrected a Jan. 8 report that originally stated Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was killed after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher by a pro-Trump rioter during the violent Jan. 6 demonstration at Capitol Hill, noting “medical experts have said he did not die of blunt force trauma.”

The original report on Sicknick’s death was used last week as evidence of “incitement” in the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump. The paper corrected the report this week with an update notice that said, “New information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol Police.”

In the original story, the Times reported that “Mr. Sicknick, 42, an officer for the Capitol Police, died on Thursday from brain injuries he sustained after Trump loyalists who overtook the complex struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials.”

The revised story now reads, “Law enforcement officials initially said Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, but weeks later, police sources and investigators were at odds over whether he was hit. Medical experts have said he did not die of blunt force trauma, according to one law enforcement official.”

The news outlet’s sources for the original report were people “close” to D.C. law enforcement.

The officer’s death and subsequent New York Times report became part of a second impeachment effort against former President Donald Trump.

Earlier this month, House impeachment managers cited the false report in their impeachment memo, stating, “The insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

Over the weekend, Mr. Trump was acquitted on a single impeachment charge accusing him of inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

U.S. senators voted 57-43 to convict Trump, falling 10 votes short of the 67 vote two-thirds majority needed to convict. The vote concluded the second impeachment trial for the former president and marked the second time he was acquitted in the U.S. Senate despite being impeached in the House of Representatives. On Feb. 5, 2020, the Senate acquitted Trump of charges accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country,” Trump said in a statement following his acquittal. “No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”