(Bloomberg) -- The family of a Capitol Police officer who died after the Jan. 6 insurrection refused to shake hands with the two top Republican congressional leaders and later slammed them for failing to fully denounce former President Donald Trump. 

Relatives of Brian Sicknick, who was assaulted by rioters and died the next day of what the medical examiner ruled were natural causes, snubbed Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a receiving line at an event to award Congressional Gold Medals to the law enforcement officers who defended building the riot.

They did shake hands with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“It was intentional,” Ken Sicknick, one of the late officer’s brothers, said in an interview afterward. He said Republican leaders denounced the rioters in the immediate aftermath but have since been mostly silent because “Donald Trump has some kind of hold of them so they’re not allowed to speak their minds.”

“I can’t shake a person’s hands who will not denounce evil,” another brother, Craig Sicknick, said. “If they continued to denounce Donald Trump and what happened that day, I would have shaken his hand.”

At the ceremony, McConnell thanked the officers who defended the Capitol and called them heroes. At a news conference later, he ignored a question about the Sicknick family’s refusal to shake his hand saying,  “Today we gave the gold medal to the heroes of January 6th. We admire and respect them.” Representatives of McCarthy didn’t immediately respond to a request for a reaction.

The Sicknick family also privately met with Pelosi and Schumer but not McConnell or McCarthy, Ken Sicknick said.

McConnell denounced the insurrection and said Trump was “morally responsible” for inciting the attack on the Capitol as Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote from the 2020 presidential election. But he voted to acquit Trump at the impeachment trial. McCarthy also said Trump bore responsibility for the attack on the Capitol but backtracked a week later. 

Dozens of officers were injured as the mob attacked them and surged into the Capitol. In testimony to the House panel investigating the insurrection, one officer likened the scene to a medieval battlefield.

More than 900 people have been arrested for taking part in the assault. Of those, more than half have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial.

The Jan. 6 committee is wrapping up it’s investigation and plans to recommend criminal prosecution against those it has concluded were responsible for the insurrection.  


--With assistance from Laura Litvan and Erik Wasson.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.