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Morgantown man, Trump sued in officer’s death

Morgantown resident George Tanios, who is pleading guilty to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, has been named in a civil suit by the fiancée of an officer who died a day later.

Sandra Garza, the partner of late officer Brian Sicknick, filed the lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and two protesters accused of collaborating to attack police with very strong pepperspray — Tanios and his longtime friend, Julian Khater.

Sicknick Friday, on the two-year anniversary of the Capitol riot, was posthumously awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest citizen award, by President Joe Biden.

The mob storming the U.S. Capitol disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.

The civil lawsuit filed this week alleges that Trump summoned his supporters to the Capitol and whipped them into a violent frenzy. And it claims that the actions of Tanios and Khater led to Sicknick’s death the next day.

“Officer Sicknick was harmed by the rioting mob Defendant Trump incited — specifically by the actions of Defendants Khater and Tanios,” the lawsuit contends.

“All of the events of January 6th, which Officer Sicknick was a part of and injured by, played a role in the condition that led to Officer Sicknick’s death the following day.”

Trump, Khater, and Tanios are being sued for wrongful death, conspiracy to violate civil rights, assault, aiding and abetting an assault and negligence.

The lawsuit asks for each of the defendants to pay damages of at least $10 million along with punitive damages. Tanios had owned a sandwich shop but has said in a hearing in his criminal case that he would sell it. He started working in a local pizza shop.

This past summer, Tanios pleaded guilty to two criminal charges that could result in a year in jail. Sentencing in that case has been set for 2 p.m. Jan. 27.

The two misdemeanors are entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds. Previously, Tanios and Khater were charged with nine counts, including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon.

Much of the evidence in the criminal case is reflected in the 47-page civil lawsuit that was filed this week.

Tanios is accused of transporting and then passing canisters of pepperspray to Khater, who aimed it at police officers, including Sicknick. A medical examiner concluded that Sicknick died of natural causes after suffering two strokes.

The lawsuit contends the physical distress that the officer went through that day led to his death.

“Officer Sicknick was directly harmed by the actions of Defendants Khater and Tanios and others,” the lawsuit states, “and died as a result of that harm.”