A federal judge blasted a Capitol rioter accused of attacking police officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray before his death.
Judge Michael Aloi slammed George Tanios as he called the 6 January riot that led to Officer Sicknick’s death “an assault on our nation”.
The judge made his damning comments as he ordered Mr Tanios, of Morgantown, West Virginia, to be detained pending trial.
Prosecutors say that Mr Tanios, 39, along with Julian Elie Khater, 32, were caught on camera discharging a canister of bear spray into the face of Officer Sicknick and two other officers.
Officer Sicknick, 42, died in hospital a day after the attack, which saw supporters of Donald Trump try and prevent certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
“I’m very aware that my rulings affect the person in front of me and everyone who loves them,” said the judge.
“It is hard for me to look at this as anything other than an assault on this nation’s heart.
“My obligation is to the safety of our community, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything play out in a way that was more dangerous to our community and I have no question that, in your own way, Mr Tanios, you chose to be part of that.”
The judge added that the riot was caused by a culture that was “radicalised by hate” and the refusal of some people to accept the 2020 election results.
“It’s hard for me to look at this as anything other than an assault on our nation’s honour and everything that’s important to us as a people,” he added,
“I don’t know if that represents who you are Mr Tanios. I don’t know that it represented a lot of people that day.”
The judge made his ruling after friends and family of Mr Tanios were called as character witnesses in his defence.
“He is not a bad kid,” insisted Mr Tanios’s mother, Maguy Tanios.
Mr Tanios and Mr Khater both face several counts for allegedly attacking the police officers, including assault and civil disorder charges.
Prosecutors have not officially stated Officer Sicknick’s cause of death, but the criminal complaint against the men states that they attacked him during the riot.
Court papers state that Mr Khater allegedly told Mr Tanios, “Give me that bear s**t”, before taking it from Mr Tanios’ backpack, according to the Daily Beast.
“Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet… it’s still early,” Mr Tanios allegedly responded.
Prosecutors claim that the pair timed their use of the bear spray on the police officers “to coincide with other rioters’ efforts to forcibly remove the bike rack barriers that were preventing the rioters from moving closer to the Capitol building”.
Prosecutors also told the court that Mr Tanios was a potential flight risk after the FBI received a tip that his mother was trying to get her son to Lebanon, where the family is originally from.
“This is my country. God bless the United States.… We are American,” said Ms Tanios.