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D.C. medical examiner releases cause of death for four people who died during Capitol riot

A mob tries to break through a police barrier at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
A mob tries to break through a police barrier at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (John Minchillo/AP)

Two civilians who died during the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol died of natural causes, and a third succumbed to amphetamine intoxication, according to the D.C. medical examiner’s office.

A fourth person, 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by a Capitol police officer inside the Capitol, was struck by a bullet to her front left shoulder, the medical examiner said in a statement.

The cause of death for a fifth person, Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who collapsed after confronting rioters and died Jan. 7, remains pending. Two people have been charged with assaulting Sicknick by spraying him with a chemical irritant.

The rulings in the four deaths that occurred as rioters stormed the Capitol seeking to overturn an election then-President Donald Trump had lost were announced in a statement issued Wednesday by the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

That statement said autopsies concluded that Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, Ala., and Benjamin Philips, 50, of Ringtown, Pa., died of natural causes due to cardiovascular disease. The medical examiner ruled that Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Ga., died of accidental acute amphetamine intoxication.

No other details of their deaths were revealed and officials declined to elaborate; autopsy reports are not public in the District, but are given to family members upon request. The drug cited in Boyland’s death is addictive and can be prescribed to treat attention-deficit disorder and narcolepsy.

Ashli Babbitt’s journey from guardian to invader

Relatives of Greeson, Phillips and Boyland either did not comment or could not be reached on Wednesday.

In Babbitt’s death, the medical examiner ruled that the police officer’s bullet killed her and that the manner was homicide. That does not mean the officer who fired can be held criminally liable for the death.

D.C. police, which investigate all deaths in the District, led the inquiry into Babbitt’s shooting. A department spokesman said the investigation has been turned over to the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C., which will decide whether the officer who fired should face criminal charges.

Babbitt, a native Californian and Air Force veteran, was among a group of rioters inside the Capitol building trying to breach a barricaded door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby, which would have opened access to the House of Representatives chamber.

Watch a video reconstruction of the shooting of Ashli Babbitt

Video clips show that as Babbitt — who had expressed support for Trump and repeated conspiracy theories and false claims of voter fraud — climbed up toward a broken section of the unguarded door, a Capitol officer on the other side fired, striking her.

Boyland also appeared to be an ardent supporter of Trump.

A Facebook page belonging to a Rosanne Boyland in Kennesaw features several pro-Trump posts and includes a false assertion that D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) ordered hotels and other businesses to close in advance of the Jan. 6 rally.

Court papers filed by prosecutors in connection with criminal cases against some of those charged in the insurrection say Boyland had been “trampled by the mob” near or on the Capitol steps as rioters battled police. In one account, a friend tried to carry Boyland across a threshold to police just as at least three officers were pulled into the crowd and beaten.

Relatives of Greeson and Philips have said neither traveled to Trump’s rally expecting to participate or be caught up in violence, though one had social media posts that advocated people take up arms, and another had posts showing a belief in false allegations of election fraud spread by Trump and his supporters.

A D.C. police report said Philips collapsed on the Capitol grounds but did not specify precisely where he was.

Greeson’s family said in a statement in January that he had a history of high blood pressure and “in the midst of the excitement, suffered a heart attack.”

A New York Times reporter saw Greeson collapse on a sidewalk on the west side of the Capitol. The father of five had been talking to his wife on a cellphone at the time.

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