Recently, the District of Columbia’s chief medical examiner issued his ruling on the cause of death for Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Officer Sicknick had engaged rioters inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. His cause of death was listed as natural causes, as he suffered two strokes.

The public was informed two days after the riot that his death was the result of blunt force trauma from a fire extinguisher. The headline on the New York Times website Jan. 8: “He dreamed of being a police officer, then was killed by a pro-Trump mob.” Other media outlets followed the Times’ lead. There was no evidence to corroborate this report. The autopsy found no blunt-force trauma to the head, and there was no one on record claiming this happened. Sicknick’s own family urged the press to stop spreading this falsehood.

This became the media narrative for many days. When the fire extinguisher story began to unravel, a new theory was proposed. The officer died from exposure to bear spray. However, the medical examiner ruled that out as well.

The atrocities of the Capitol riots that gripped America was a horrific event. There’s no downplaying that. Officer Brian Sicknick bravely defended the Capitol from a riotous mob. However, his death was not caused by the actions of those protesters.

The press should have reported the truth and not manufactured it. At a time when public opinion of the media is low, this doesn’t help. Responsible journalism will help to maintain the public’s trust.

Kevin Landry

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