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Capitol Police chief tears into Tucker Carlson for claims about Officer Brian Sicknick

The Fox News host was also criticized by Sicknick's partner and family members, who said Carlson had curated "footage that supports his delusional views" of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger
Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger speaks at a Senate Rules Committee hearing on Dec. 19. Matt Rourke / AP

WASHINGTON — U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger ripped Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday for spreading “offensive and misleading conclusions” about the Jan. 6 insurrection, including a “disturbing accusation” about Officer Brian Sicknick’s death that also drew rebukes from his family and partner.

In a letter to the Capitol Police force that was obtained by NBC News, Manger conveyed his outrage over the way Carlson portrayed video aired on his prime-time program Monday night. The security video was exclusively provided to Carlson by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

"The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video," Manger wrote. "The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments."

He continued: "Finally, the most disturbing accusation from last night was that our late friend and colleague Brian Sicknick’s death had nothing to do with his heroic actions on January 6. The Department maintains, as anyone with common sense would, that had Officer Sicknick not fought valiantly for hours on the day he was violently assaulted, Officer Sicknick would not have died the next day."

Sicknick’s mother and two brothers responded to Carlson's characterization of the officer's death by saying Carlson's "'truth' is to pick and choose footage that supports his delusional views that the Jan 6th Insurrection was peaceful."

Carlson said on his show that Democrats lied about Sicknick's death and played video that he said showed Sicknick walking around inside the Capitol after the mob attacked him. "They knew he was not murdered by the mob, but they claimed it anyway," he said, referring to members of the media and the House Jan. 6 committee.

Sicknick, who was 42, died of natural causes after the attack on Jan. 6, 2021. Washington's chief medical examiner said what happened during the attack played a role in his death.

Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz said in April 2021 that an autopsy revealed that Sicknick died of natural causes after he had two strokes at the base of the brainstem that were caused by a blood clot. Sicknick returned to his office after the riot and collapsed and died at a hospital about eight hours later, Capitol Police have said.

Two men arrested in the assault on Sicknick have been sentenced. One admitted to having sprayed Sicknick with a chemical irritant, and the other pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in a deal with the government. Sicknick’s family has contended that the fighting with rioters contributed directly to his stroke.

"On video, Officer Sicknick looks like he managed to shake off the chemical irritants and resume his duties. That he did, but his sense of duty and incredible work ethic were the driving force which sent him back in spite of his injuries and no doubt contributed to his succumbing to his injuries the following day," Sicknick's family said in Tuesday's statement.

Sicknick's partner, Sandra Garza, told NBC News in a statement that she was "appalled" by Carlson's segment and his "downplaying the significance of Brian’s death."

Carlson "is not a doctor or a mental health professional and does not have the expertise to understand how one severe traumatic event can so significantly impact the body and brain,” she said. “For him to act as an expert is laughable.”

Manger, who took over as Capitol Police chief in July 2021, said in his letter to rank-and-file members that Carlson's opinion program "never reached out to the Department to provide accurate context." He said Carlson falsely alleged that Capitol Police officers helped the rioters and acted as "tour guides" on Jan. 6.

"This is outrageous and false. This Department stands by the officers in the video that was shown last night. I don’t have to remind you how outnumbered our officers were on January 6," Manger said. "You fought like hell on January 6 and risked your lives to protect the Constitution and everything this country stands for. You, along with our law enforcement partners, saved every Member of Congress and their staff."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said at a news conference Tuesday that he wanted to "associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief of the Capitol police about what happened on Jan. 6.”

“My concern is how it was depicted,” McConnell said when he was asked whether it was a mistake for McCarthy to hand the video over to Fox News. “Clearly the chief of the Capitol police correctly described what most of us witnessed on Jan. 6."

Manger said TV commentary "will not record the truth for our history books" but the "justice system will."

Some Republican members of Congress also criticized Carlson for downplaying Jan. 6 and portraying the rioters as largely peaceful.