CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia man charged in the assault of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after defending the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, can be released on bond while he awaits trial, a federal appeals court ruled.
The district court erred in assessing the danger posed by George Tanios, according to the appellate ruling issued Monday.
“The record reflects that Tanios has no past felony convictions, no ties to any extremist organizations, and no post-January 6 criminal behavior that would otherwise show him to pose a danger to the community within the meaning of the Bail Reform Act,” the ruling said.
The district court in May ruled that Tanios must remain behind bars while awaiting trial on numerous charges, including assault on a federal officer with a dangerous weapon. U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan found that Tanios was a threat to the community. The judge said the assault with chemical spray on Sicknick and two other officers contributed to the mob’s ability to breach a police line guarding the Capitol.
An attorney for Tanios — who operated a greasy spoon called Sandwich U in Morgantown, home of West Virginia University — had argued that there was no advance planning and that her client had bought the chemical sprays only for self-protection in the event of violence against Trump supporters.
Prosectors have said Julian Khater of State College, Pennsylvania, sprayed Sicknick and other officers with chemicals after retrieving a canister from Tanios’ backpack. Sicknick later collapsed and died. Khater, who remains behind bars, has pleaded not guilty to assault charges. Neither he nor Tanios have been charged in Sicknick’s death.
A Washington medical examiner in April determined that Sicknick suffered a stroke and died from natural causes.
Capitol Police accepted the medical examiner’s findings but said the ruling didn’t change the fact that Sicknick had died in the line of duty, “courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”