Judge dismisses wrongful death claim against Trump and Brian Sicknick’s assailants but allows lawsuit to proceed

A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday dismissed a wrongful death claim brought as part of a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and two men accused of assaulting U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick during the Capitol riot.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled that Sicknick’s longtime partner, Sandra Garza, lacked standing to bring such a claim against Trump and defendants Julian Khater and George Tanios because she was not Sicknick’s spouse and did not meet the legal definition of being his domestic partner.

“[Garza’s] contention that a ‘domestic partnership’ was established simply by Officer Sicknick having identified Garza as his ‘domestic partner’ in his will finds no basis in the plain text of the statute,” Mehta wrote. “Garza therefore cannot recover the damages she personally seeks under the Act.”

Mark S. Zaid, one of the attorneys representing Garza, said in a statement: “We are pleased to see that our lawsuit in pursuit of justice for the late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection, has been permitted to continue. We are now considering our next step options, to include deposing former President Trump.”

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.Courtesy Sicknick family

Garza’s civil suit, which she filed last year, remains active and will be allowed to continue on the remaining claim — that Trump, Khater and Tanios joined a civil conspiracy to interfere with civil rights. She is seeking $10 million in damages from each defendant.

Khater, who admitted to spraying Sicknick with a chemical irritant during the riot, pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting officers in 2022 and was sentenced to 80 months in prison. Tanios, who admitted to purchasing the spray, pleaded guilty to two lesser misdemeanor counts and was sentenced to time served. 

A medical examiner said that Sicknick, who died a day after the Capitol riot, suffered two strokes at the base of the brain stem caused by a blood clot.

The autopsy, which found Sicknick died of natural causes, found no evidence that he suffered an allergic reaction to chemical irritants and no evidence of either external or internal injuries.

Trump is facing a series of legal challenges related to his alleged role in the Capitol riot.

A federal appeals court last month rejected the former president’s efforts to dismiss civil claims seeking to hold him to account for the riot on the basis of presidential immunity.