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As rioters breached the Capitol's perimeter last January, Capitol Police Officers like Brian Sicknick tried pushing back the crowd to protect the building and the lawmakers. Pro-Trump rioters sprayed him with a chemical. He collapsed later that evening, suffered two strokes and died the next day, at the age of 42. Judy Woodruff speaks with Sandra Garza, who was with Sicknick for 11 years.
On January 6, as rioters breached the Capitol's security perimeter, Capitol Police officers tried pushing back the crowd in an attempt to protect the building and the lawmakers still inside.
One of those officers was Brian Sicknick. Pro-Trump rioters sprayed him with a chemical substance during the insurrection. He collapsed later that evening. He suffered two strokes, and he died the next day at the age of 42.
Officer Sicknick and Sandra Garza were together for 11 years. And she joins me now.
Sandra Garza, thank you so much for joining us to talk about something so personal to you.
Tell us a little bit about him.
Sandra Garza, Girlfriend of Brian Sicknick: Oh, well, Brian was just one of the sweetest, kindest men I have ever met.
And I know that sounds so cliche, when a loved one or someone that you care about so much passes away, for people to say, oh, they were the kindest, sweetest person I have ever met. But it really was true.
To really emphasize how true that was about Brian, even the investigators who were investigating Brian's death, because it took three-and-a-half months to find out what caused his death, they actually said to me that they could not find one person, not one single soul to say anything negative about Brian.
That's how well-liked and how good of a person that he was. Brian got along with everybody. He was just a warm, loving person. And so it really hurt me a lot to know that he suffered greatly before his death. So, he was a good person.
And we know — I know some people have looked at what happened, they have read a little bit it, and they have questioned the connection between what happened to him. As we mentioned, he was sprayed with a chemical substance. Then he suffered two strokes. He died the next day.
Some people have questioned the connection. But you have said there is no doubt in your mind that it was that — what happened in that riot that lead to his death.
Well, I said that I accepted the medical examiner's conclusion and the report.
But what I will say is, the medical examiner did say that all that transpired that day definitely played a role in kind of escalating or tipping the scales to escalate his death. And I agree with that. And I hope I'm not misquoting the medical examiner.
But that's pretty much how I see it. You know, Brian was running from one end of the Capitol to the other end of the Capitol. He was exerting himself. And he was attacked.
All of those factors combined, and being highly stressed, producing a lot of adrenaline and cortisol in the body, worrying about his colleagues, as well as himself. I mean, I know if I was approached by thousands of people, and there was only three or four officers next to me, and they're screaming at me and throwing things at me and assaulting me, I would be pretty darn stressed.
So I think, definitely, that played a role in tipping the scales for him to pass away much faster.
Brian was — we know now Brian was — had been a supporter of former President Trump. He had opposed his first impeachment.
But then, of course, these events took place. Who do you hold responsible? To what extent do you hold the former president responsible for this?
I hold Donald Trump 100 percent responsible for what happened on January 6 and all of the people that have enabled him, enabled him that day, and continue to enable him now, but definitely yes.
And I think, sadly, Brian did not live long enough to see the evidence that has come forth to show what kind of man Donald Trump really is. Clearly, he doesn't support law enforcement. I mean, he watched for hours law enforcement being pummeled and beaten, attacked, and he did nothing.
He — later, we had four officers kill themselves because of the events of that day, the stressors that they experienced. And, of course, the last two officers, sadly, that committed suicide, we don't know all the factors that combined that caused them to take their lives.
But, clearly, we know that January 6 was a terrible event. And I think that, coupled with maybe other stressors in their life, certainly played a role. And I think Brian would be horrified. I think he would have viewed Donald Trump in a very different light.
And, of course, on that day, all the officers were in their respective areas. It was only after the event that they got to see all of the footage from that day, that they got to see what their colleagues on the other end of the Capitol were experiencing. So I think they were horrified, yes.
And you're right. It has taken a long time for many of those details, for the video, pieces of the story to come together.
How do you think the former president should be held accountable?
Personally, for me, I think he needs to be in prison. That is what I think.
But Donald Trump has been playing these legal wrangling games for decades. He knows how to skirt the system. He knows how to — he's a very litigious person himself. And then, when he's been sued, he knows how to play these games to get around things and avoid jail and prison time.
So, that's the sad piece. But it would be very — what's the word I'm looking for? — satisfying to me to see him in prison.
I don't regret for — voting for Trump. I identify as an independent, by the way. Brian was a Republican. But the horrific thing that he did on the 6th is unforgivable. And it's terrible, yes.
He is just a horrible person. And he still has not contacted me, by the way.
He has not been in touch with you?
No, no. He doesn't have the courage or the spine to do it. He just doesn't.
One other thing.
What do you say to — or think of the members of Congress? Most Republican members of Congress are saying, in effect: Let's move on. January the 6th happened. It's in the past. We need to focus on the future.
Yes, what I would say to that is, Trump is the type of man who incites violence, and so it is not going to stop.
And if they don't stand up and say, enough is enough, it is just going to continue. And, sadly, I really worry about safety of our officers still. I worry about another January 6-like attack. I mean, this is serious stuff. And they're concerned about money in their pocket and power.
It's ridiculous. It's really ridiculous. They don't care about the American people. That says it right there. They care about themselves.
Well, Sandra Garza, we know what a tough week this is for you, remembering all that, and remembering, of course, your longtime partner Brian Sicknick.
Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
Thank you, Judy. I really appreciate you having me. It was nice speaking to you.
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