So-Called “Assault Video” Creates Big Problems for Prosecutors in Sicknick Capitol Riot Death Case
March 31, 2021 (7mo ago)

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Last week, the New York Times obtained a leaked copy of video footage purporting to show the exact moment Officer Sicknick was allegedly bear sprayed by MAGA protesters.

New videos obtained by The New York Times show publicly for the first time how the U.S. Capitol Police officer who died after facing off with rioters on Jan. 6 was attacked with chemical spray.

The officer, Brian D. Sicknick, who had been guarding the west side of the Capitol, collapsed later that day and died the next night. Little had been known about what happened to Officer Sicknick during the assault, and the previously unpublished videos provide new details about when, where and how he was attacked, as well as about the events leading up to the encounter.

Two rioters, Julian Elie Khater and George Pierre Tanios, were arrested on March 14 and charged with assaulting Officer Sicknick and two other officers with chemical spray. The investigation is continuing, and federal prosecutors haven’t ruled out pursuing murder charges. [New York Times]

If you haven’t seen the videos yet, there’s a good reason why. They’re surprisingly hard to find, unless you’re a paying Times subscriber. Also, given how underwhelming and confusing the actual evidence is, the fact that the clips didn’t exactly go viral is itself an indictment of the Justice Department’s case against Khater and Tanios.

Fortunately, a helpful anon managed to upload the key New York Times clip on YouTube.  These are the main 36 seconds around which the entire Sicknick trial will revolve.

The Department of Justice is telling the public that this grainy 360p video is sufficient to justify 60 years in Federal prison for two young men, one of whom is not even accused of using the spray canister at all.

In a previous Revolver exclusive, we detailed the shocking apparent weaknesses of the FBI and DOJ’s claims asserted against George Tanios and Julian Khater, the two defendants charged with assaulting Officer Sicknick.

READ MORE: January 6 Narrative Collapse — Assault Charges Spell Problems for DOJ, FBI in Officer Sicknick Case

First, we laid out the jaw-dropping disproportionality of the charges:

Tanios is facing 60 years in prison, which is considerably more time than for typical first degree murder, despite the fact that Tanios not only did not spray Sicknick (it was Khater who allegedly did so), but the criminal complaint does not allege he even entered the U.S. Capitol building that day. At 39 years of age, if Tanios is found guilty on all counts with no leniency at sentencing, he will leave prison at 99 years old. [Revolver]

Then, we noted the astonishing fact that the criminal complaint, while purporting to show still frames from “pinpointed” footage of the assault, had no money shot in which Sicknick was actually struck:

The crux of the prosecution’s case is that they discovered surveillance video footage, plus corroborating officer body cam footage, showing Khater spraying Sicknick and two other officers with chemical spray. But neither the surveillance video nor the body cam footage has been made publicly unavailable.

While the 11-page criminal complaint and the 65-page FBI Special Agent affidavit both refer to the same six screenshots purporting to be video frames from the surveillance and body cam footage, none of the screenshots show the “money shot” where Khater supposedly sprays the officers. [Revolver]

Our conclusion was that the evidence in these videos must be so weak that unlike in the so-called Whitmer Kidnapping Plot, where Federal prosecutors raced to show the public whiz-bang footage of The Bad Guys, we may never see the whole tape of what happened here. Alternatively, given the intense political pressure on the FBI and DOJ – and their propensity to bend to such pressure – one could easily envision their instinct to maliciously overplay a poor hand in order to preserve The Narrative.

Like Wiley Coyote running over a cliff and not yet looking down to realize how unmoored his sprint has become from reality, cartoonish speculation continues to support The Narrative in place of actual evidence or a legal allegation from the Justice Department. [Revolver]

To put it in meme:

Big Flop Video Creates Big Problems for Prosecutors

The revelation of the New York Times Sicknick video present three major issues for the FBI and DOJ.

First, from the moment Khater raises a spray canister onward, there is not a single moment in which Khater appears in the same video frame as Officer Sicknick. The below image shows the last time the two appear together in frame.

This confirms Khater to be a considerable distance away from Sicknick during the alleged assault. It also leaves open the possibility that it was not Khater’s spray that made contact with Sicknick, but rather than someone else’s closer to Sicknick in the crowd.

Second, we are told spray is coming out of Khater’s cannister, but it’s not actually shown in this video. The New York Times primes its audience by overlaying a large white box reading “Spray Stream” on the video.

NYT further states:

A thin stream of liquid is visible shooting from a canister in Mr. Khater’s hand. It is unclear in the video what Mr. Khater is firing, and prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Tanios brought two smaller canisters of pepper spray to the Capitol in addition to two cans of Frontiersman bear spray. [NYT]

But does this really show a “a thin stream of visible liquid” actually hitting Sicknick? From a distance, you can’t really tell if a spray has been fired, so in the midst of the confusion and uncertainty, most readers simply defer to the New York Times. Let’s zoom in closer with Photoshop.

What appears from a distance to be a white-ish mist from the canister actually appears upon closer inspection to be simply a continuation of the white-tipped January treeline in the background.

When we set the still frame to max resolution in Photoshop, it becomes apparent that the supposed “bear spray stream” is utterly invisible.

A tonal heat map of the image in Photoshop confirms that there is no “thin stream of liquid” visible at all. The boxed area is entirely indistinguishable from background noise.

There appears to be nothing there.

This is no small point. Some sort of spray should be visible. Recall, for instance, the salience of the spray in the infamous “UC Davis Pepper Spray” incident.

What about bear spray?

It’s virtually impossible to find a “bear spray” incident where the visible spray is not hugely prominent. It’s certainly never wholly invisible over several yards. Full spray mace canisters, like the one allegedly used by Khater, produce fantastically voluminous clouds.

Per the New York Times, we now know the brand of the bear spray that Tanios possessed. Mind you, Tanios is now facing six decades in prison for bringing this spray to the Capitol.

On Monday, federal prosecutors alleged in court that Mr. Khater and Mr. Tanios were carrying Frontiersman bear spray… Images of the bear spray sold by Sabre appear to be similar to the canister seen in Mr. Khater’s hand at one point in the video. [NYT]

The spray’s plume is unmistakable and huge in Frontiersman’s promotional videos.

Heat map gradients in Photoshop reveal the obvious contours of the precise shape of the bear spray canister’s plume when it is actually being deployed.

It’s patently evident from the exact moment that the New York Times froze the video that someone else was actually confirmed to be spraying mace around Sicknick in the moments shortly before Sicknick reacts by rubbing his eyes.

In the below Photoshop heat map, this other bear spray stream near Sicknick is apparent, and it’s coming from the opposite direction of Khater.

So why did the New York Times place a priming bar with “Spray Stream” over that box, when there is no spray inside the box they actually circled? Are we back in Looney Tunes land?

Third, and perhaps indeed most damning, it appears that FBI Special Agent Riley Palmertree may have made a serious and material error in his 65-page affidavit in support of the DOJ’s charges.

The DOJ’s criminal complaint provided two conflicting accounts for Khater’s exact location at the moment when Officer Sicknick reacted to spray in his eyes, according to a previous Revolver investigation. Evidently, Officer Chapman’s bodycam footage shows Khater “five to eight feet away” from the officers. But FBI Special Agent Palmertree testifies in his affidavit that Khater is closer, “within a few feet” during the actual spray incident.

The New York Times footage reveals an incredible coincidence. Another man, the same height as Khater, is wearing a red-white-and-blue Trump Beanie identical to Khater’s. Let’s call this character “Trump Beanie Man #2.”

Khater is standing what appears to be perhaps five to eight feet away from Sicknick (more like eight feet), while Trump Beanie Man #2 is standing much closer, just a few feet away. FBI Special Agent Palmertree appears to have mistaken Khater for Trump Beanie Man #2 in his testimony.

To wit, at 0:14, Khater (far left) is standing much farther away from Sicknick (off screen to the right) than Trump Beanie Man #2 (center):

At 0:17, Khater’s invisible bear spray allegedly goes over the head of Trump Beanie Man #2 towards Sicknick:

And then finally, at 0:20, we see Sicknick rubbing his eyes. But it’s not Khater standing “within a few feet of him;” it’s Trump Beanie Man #2.

The NYT video implies Khater cannot be “within a few feet” of Sicknick because he was at least several feet behind Trump Beanie Man #2.

Did the testifying FBI Special Agent screw this one up on his affidavit? Did he mistake the two men? Perhaps there is a benign explanation. But it would be little surprise if this is yet another convenient FBI mistake to deceptively inflate a highly dubious case, corrupt the public record, and disadvantage the defendants in the court of public opinion.

Shock and Awe

Perhaps there is another variable at play besides justice. To students of history who have witnessed the public record be corrupted by the national security state before, this all feels too familiar.

Last week, Federal prosecutor Michael Sherwin, who is leading the DOJ’s dragnet of 1/6 arrests, took to CBS’s 60 Minutes with a message: these prosecutions have been a successful “shock and awe” mission to scare MAGA protesters witless. See the below clip from 3:41-3:58.

He says:

I wanted to ensure, and our office wanted to ensure, that there was shock and awe. That we could charge as many people as possible before [January] 20th. And it worked because we saw through media posts that people were afraid to come back to D.C., because they were like, ‘If we go there, we’re going to get charged.’

This is U.S. Attorney Sherwin’s face as he says “shock.” 


And this is Sherwin’s gleeful face as he emphasizes how “afraid” protesters are of him. 


He’s not giddy that criminals are afraid to break the law. He’s giddy that citizens are afraid to come to their nation’s capital. As pointed out by Big League Politics, Sherwin’s “Shock and Awe” campaign was designed to deter any kind of pro-Trump organized rally in D.C. whatsoever.

Federal prosecutor Michael Sherwin appeared on CBS News’ 60 Minutes on Sunday where he admitted that he charged as many people as quickly as possible regardless of the evidence to put a chilling effect on the 1st Amendment rights of Trump supporters. [Big League Politics]

This is the face of a smug, malicious prosecutor, absolutely over the moon that he has successfully intimidated as many American citizens as possible into not exercising their right to peaceably assemble. 

It’s fitting that Sherwin name-dropped “Shock and Awe.” Shock and Awe was, of course, the famous name of the military and media propaganda campaign associated with the Pentagon’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

It was, in fact, then-candidate Trump’s absolute torching of Jeb Bush during the 2016 debates over the failed invasion of Iraq that initially put his Make America Great Again movement so squarely in the crosshairs of the neoconservative wing of The Blob. Trump’s whirlwind performance that night may have never been forgiven.

Indeed, the reorientation of the entire U.S. national security state around the invasion of Iraq was based on a lie of absolutely incredible proportions: namely, the hoax that Iraq’s Evil Regime (TM) had “weapons of mass destruction.” The original Shock and Awe Big Lie was heralded with all the same fanfare and Congressional testimonies we see today. The Department of Homeland Security has of course used 2021’s Big Lie of “lethal” riots to justify the Department of Homeland Security’s conversion into a domestic social media spy agency.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to protect the country from international terrorism, is moving toward a sweeping set of policy changes to detect and stop what intelligence officials say is now a top threat: domestic violent extremism.

Two senior Biden administration officials said DHS, whose intelligence division did not publish a warning of potential violence before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, is seeking to improve its ability to collect and analyze data about domestic terrorism — including the sorts of public social media posts that threatened an attack on the U.S. Capitol but were not deemed “actionable” by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

DHS plans to expand its relationships with companies that scour public data for intelligence, one of the senior officials said, as well as to better harness the vast trove of data it already collects about Americans, including travel and commercial data through Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service and other DHS components. [NBC News]

For your edification, here is a flashback to Colin Powell’s historically deceptive presentation to the UN regarding “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

From the transcript:

I cannot tell you everything that we know. But what I can share with you, when combined with what all of us have learned over the years, is deeply troubling.

What you will see is an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior… Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction. [Guardian]

But “Shock and Awe” also has a more general meaning.

Term for a military strategy based on achieving rapid dominance over an adversary by the initial imposition of overwhelming force and firepower. [Oxford Reference]

A prosecutorial “Shock and Awe” blitz is the exact opposite of a fair trial. When used by a U.S. Attorney, it constitutes a direct assault on the very concept of Lady Liberty as blind, measured and dispassionate. And it is an unrepentant middle-finger aimed at every American dissident who questions The Regime.

Apparently, excessive force completely out of step with all principles of proportionality is the new banner brand of the U.S. Justice Department.

And how do they get the American people to go along with it?

Then, as now, we were told to not believe our lying eyes. Ignore what is plain as day six inches in front of your face, citizen, and listen to “experts” whose “years and years of experience poring over light tables” allowed them to see Weapons of Mass Destruction, whereas you, pleb, lack the necessary Intelligence Goggles. Witness 14:52-15:22 of Colin Powell’s “Shock and Awe” presentation:

That transcript:

We also have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities.

Let me say a word about satellite images before I show a couple. The photos that I am about to show you are sometimes hard for the average person to interpret, hard for me. The painstaking work of photo analysis takes experts with years and years of experience, poring for hours and hours over light tables. But as I show you these images, I will try to capture and explain what they mean, what they indicate to our imagery specialists. [Guardian]

Sound familiar?

Shock and Awe was not just made for Baghdad, citizen. Today, their sights are set on you.

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