Today I talked with a highly qualified neurologist. Knowing he keeps up on current events - particularly those within his expertise - I asked him if he had been following reports on the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
He said that he had been following the developments quite closely. After a conversation on the timeline and the alleged cause(s) of death and media reporting, he volunteered some thoughts.
Before we get to those thoughts, and to lay down a foundation, let’s go back to reporting on Officer Sicknick’s death.
Background – Conflicting Reports Emerge
The January 7, 2021 death of Officer Brian Sicknick was initially reported by the New York Times as being caused by pro-Trump rioters, who “struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”
The New York Times’ “law enforcement officials” – whoever they might be – were wrong. While the New York Times tweet and reporting still claim he was killed by Trump supporters, later New York Times reporting from February 11, 2021 states that a contributing factor to his death may have been chemical irritants like mace or bear spray:
A remarkable turnaround for the New York Times. This came after February 2, 2021 reporting from CNN that “medical examiners did not find signs that the officer sustained any blunt force trauma.”
Add to the confusion a January 8, 2021 article from KHOU-11 in Houston that Officer Sicknick “died after he suffered a stroke at the Capitol during riots.”
It appears that KHOU was looking in the right direction but their timeline was off. The latest reporting from The Daily Mail, dated February 22, 2021, quotes Officer Sicknick’s mom as believing her son was not hit on the head and suffered a stroke.
For perspective, Officer Sicknick had been texting his brother the night of January 6, so the stroke occurred hours after any interaction with protesters.
The Doctor’s Thoughts
According to the neurologist, imaging studies would have been taken at the hospital once Officer Sicknick was admitted. Likely a CAT scan to the brain/head and perhaps other studies. These would have immediately ruled out a hemorrhage or a trauma-induced stroke. Moreover, depending on the location of the clot, a stroke caused by trauma could be impossible. He says that there are some type of strokes in parts of the brain that this type of trauma just couldn’t reach.
It would be essential to have a thorough understanding of Officer Sicknick’s medical history to determine whether any pre-existing heart or vascular issues were a factor or the cause. He discounted the theory that mace or bear spray, would have caused the clot, calling it “very rare” and saying any spray (if it even affected the officer) and the clot seem to have been too far removed. He couldn’t eliminate the potential that the stress from the event as a whole (think elevated blood pressure), combined with the Officer’s medical history, could have contributed to the stroke. But the focus should be on medical history. They don’t emerge out of nowhere.
Finally, he firmly believes that officials have already made their conclusions: “These things don’t take this long.”