Prosecutors previously said Thomas Sibick was spotted on police body-camera footage ripping away Fanone’s badge and radio while he lay on the ground outside the Capitol. Fanone collapsed after the attack and was hospitalized, and later recalled in a CNN interview that rioters tased him and tried to pull his weapon out of its holster.
Sibick, charged with 10 federal crimes, including assaulting an officer and robbery, has pleaded not guilty. He has been in jail since his arrest in March but argued that new police body camera footage showed the interaction was a failed attempt to help Fanone. Sibick is the latest high-profile Capitol riot defendant to argue that video footage of his attack recharacterizes the moment, and that he was in fact trying to help embattled police officers.
“He may be helpful in the nursing home. He may be helpful in the jail. He may be a helpful human being in life, but he was not helping on January 6,” US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Friday, adding that Sibick took “unique, purposeful, independent actions” to reach in and grab at Fanone’s equipment.
“He doesn’t hold him, offer him assistance, protect him with his body,” Jackson said.
Sibick’s lawyer, Stephen Brennwald, argued that he “just reached his hands out… and the officer’s items were there.” When Sibick reached safety, Brennwald said, he tried to use the radio to call for help.
But, Jackson noted, Sibick pushed the emergency button 18 minutes after the attack, and 16 minutes after Fanone “was returned to safety by others and collapsed unconscious.”
Jackson also expressed concern about Sibick’s repeated alleged lies to investigators about the stolen police badge and radio, though he isn’t facing charges for lying to the FBI. Sibick first claimed he left the badge in DC, then said he threw it in a dumpster, then admitted burying it in his backyard, according to court documents.
Sibick’s family sat in the courtroom during the proceeding. It was the first time they’ve seen each other since he was jailed, Brennwald said, saying that Sibick was crying.
Sibick has shown “more than what you’d call good behavior” in jail, Jackson said during the proceeding.
But Sibick has struggled in recent weeks, Brennwald said. Other inmates were giving Sibick a hard time for being a “goody-goody,” and he has voluntarily been kept separate from other inmates for the past two weeks to escape the harassment.