The family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died hours after defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, refused to shake hands with the two top Republican members of Congress at a Tuesday ceremony.
The Sicknick family members walked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., during a ceremony on Tuesday recognizing hundreds of officers who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
McConnell had his hand outstretched, but Sicknick’s family ignored his gesture. They told NBC News after the event that passing on the opportunity to shake the GOP leaders’ hands was not a mistake.
“We got together and said we’re not going to shake their hands,” Gladys Sicknick, mother of the late officer, told NBC News.
She called out congressional Republicans who continue to support former President Trump, “go down to Mar-a-Lago and you know, kiss his ring or whatever the hell they do down there, you know.” She met with Republican lawmakers last year asking for them to vote in support of creating a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the Capitol attack. McConnell and McCarthy were opposed to the commission. The legislation passed the House, but it was blocked in the Senate due to a Republican opposition led by McConnell.
Ken Sicknick, brother of the late officer, told NBC News that their refusal to shake GOP leaders’ hands at the ceremony is “kind of self-explanatory.”
“They continue to perpetrate the big lie, or at least not denounce it, which is basically the same thing, and they refuse to condemn Donald Trump,” he said, referring to the former president’s false claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election.
Craig Sicknick, another brother of the late officer, also called McCarthy out for his initial condemnation of Trump after the Capitol attack, but ultimately remained a staunch supporter of the former president.
“I mean, they’re speaking here today in honor of the officers and what happened but at the same token out of the other side of their mouth, ... they’re doing a lot to support what caused the events of January 6, instead of denouncing them,” Craig Sicknick said.
Former Metropolitan Police Department Officer Mike Fanone, who suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury after being violently assaulted Jan. 6, said he was “surprised” McCarthy made an appearance at the ceremony.
“I was surprised, actually, that Kevin McCarthy showed up. I thought that he would be busy trying to figure out how he could suspend the Constitution on behalf of former President Trump,” Fanone said in an interview with CNN.
“That ceremony happened in spite of Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, not because of them," he added. "And so, the fact that they got to go there and speak words, I mean, they were meaningless.”
Fanone separately told NBC News that members of MPD heckled him inside the rotunda during the ceremony.
“I was heckled by members of my own department,” he said. “They called me a piece of s--- and mockingly called me a great f------ hero while clapping.”
Fanone, who was among four officers who testified Tuesday at the first hearing of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6, said that they told him he was a disgrace and didn’t belong at the ceremony. Fanone said the hecklers were from the Special Operations Division.
Sicknick was given the rare distinction of lying in honor in the building’s Rotunda. He was injured “while physically engaging with protesters” and returned to his division office, where he collapsed, Capitol Police said in a statement.
Washington’s chief medical examiner determined that Sicknick died of natural causes the day after the riot on Jan. 6 after he suffered two strokes.
Last September, Capitol rioter Julian Khater pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting law enforcement officers in a virtual court appearance before U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan. Khater admitted that he sprayed two officers in the face with chemical irritant: Sicknick and Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards.