Family of fallen Capitol Police officer refuses to shake hands with McCarthy, McConnell


'They have no idea what integrity is,' the brother of the late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick said of their refusal to shake GOP leaders' hands at a congressional gold medal ceremony.

Family members of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick refused to shake the hands of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell while accepting medals on behalf of the officer who died after defending the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

The moment happened at a ceremony to award the congressional gold medal to members of law enforcement who defended the United States Capitol from the mob of Donald Trump supporters who violently broke into the building on Jan. 6, 2021 to attempt to stop certification of now-President Joe Biden's victory.

The House passed a resolution in June awarding the medal to Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department officers who responded to the attack. Sicknick — who died on Jan. 7, 2021, one day after a rioter sprayed him with a chemical irritant — was specifically mentioned in the resolution, which reads:

The sacrifice of heroes including Capitol Police Officers Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood, Metropolitan Police Department Officer Jeffrey Smith, and those who sustained injuries, and the courage of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, exemplify the patriotism and the commitment of Capitol Police officers, and those of other law enforcement agencies, to risk their lives in service of our country.

Sicknick's brother, Ken, his mother, Gladys, and other unidentified members of the family refused to shake the leaders' hands.

Ken explained why he and his family members refused handshakes:

"Unlike Liz Cheney, they have no idea what integrity is," Ken Sicknick told CBS News' Scott MacFarlane after the ceremony. "They can't stand up for what's right and wrong. With them it's party first."

Ken Sicknick, who describes himself as a "lifelong Republican," also stated, "These guys are [like], as long as it's got a big 'R' in front of it, we're gonna do whatever we need."

Gladys told CNN she refused to shake the leaders' hands because they are "two-faced."

"I’m just tired of them standing there and saying how wonderful the Capitol police is and then they turn around and … go down to Mar-a-Lago and kiss his ring and come back and stand here and sit with – it just, it just hurts," she told CNN.

It's not the first time members of the Sicknick family have criticized congressional Republicans.

"I suggest that all Congressmen and Senators who are against this Bill visit my son’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward," Gladys said in 2021 when she unsuccessfully lobbied Republicans to support a commission to probe the attack.

Senate Republicans — including McConnell — went on to block the creation of an independent commission to probe the attack. Instead, the House went on to create a select committee to investigate Jan. 6 with the support of two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).

Sandra Garza, Sicknick's longtime partner, wrote that she felt "rage" as Republicans went on to dismiss the insurrection — which left five officers dead and 140 others injured.

“As the months passed, my deep sadness turned to outright rage as I watched Republican members of Congress lie on TV and in remarks to reporters and constituents about what happened that day,” Garza wrote in an opinion article for CNN in June 2021. “Over and over they denied the monstrous acts committed by violent protesters.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack, stood by Sicknick's family for refusing to shake the GOP leaders' hands.

"These families are patriots too," Raskin told MacFarlane. "They can look and see who plays footsie with Donald Trump."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.