© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

2 Men Charged With Assaulting Police In Capitol Riot Ordered Jailed Pending Trial

A federal judge has ordered two men who are charged with conspiracy for allegedly assaulting police officers during the Capitol riot to be detained pending trial.

Julian Khater and George Tanios have pleaded not guilty to the 10 counts against them, including assaulting an officer and conspiracy to injure an officer. The men are accused of using pepper spray on police who were defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, an assault that prosecutors say was timed to help rioters break through police lines and storm the building.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan ordered Khater and Tanios to remain in custody pending trial after finding that they pose a danger to the community.

"These two gentlemen are law-abiding, respected individuals in the community, and it makes it very difficult for the court to make this conclusion," Hogan said, noting their otherwise clean records, strong community ties and family support. "But they still committed this attack on uniformed police officers, and I don't find a way around that."

Prosecutors say Tanios bought two canisters of bear spray and two canisters of pepper spray on Jan. 5 before traveling to Washington, D.C., for the Trump rally. Call records indicate he was on the phone with Khater while he was in the store purchasing the materials, according to the government.

Prosecutors say the two men drove together to D.C. on the eve of the rally. Then on Jan. 6, Tanios and Khater were in the crowd outside the Capitol engaging with police who were trying to protect the building.

At one point, according to videos presented by the government, Khater walks over to Tanios and tells him to "give me that bear s***," and reaches into a backpack that Tanios is carrying.

Tanios tells him: "Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet ... it's still early." Khater can then be seen holding a canister of what prosecutors say is chemical spray.

A few minutes later, Khater can be seen on video spraying three U.S. Capitol Police officers, who immediately retreat from the line and raise their hands to their face. One of the officers, Brian Sicknick, died the following day. The city's medical examiner has said Sicknick died of natural causes.

At Tuesday's hearing, Judge Hogan ticked through the events at issue in the case. Hogan said the timeline and evidence supports the conclusion that Tanios and Khater timed their use of the chemical spray "to coincide with the other rioters' efforts to forcibly remove the bike rack barriers preventing the rioters from moving closer to the Capitol building."

"In other words," Hogan said, "they played a role in the ultimate breach in the attack on the Capitol."

More than 400 people have been charged so far in connection with the Capitol riot, and prosecutors have said at least 100 more could still face charges.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.