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Fact check: BLM protesters in Louisville protected a lone police officer

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/23/2021 Madeleine Ngo, USA TODAY
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Corrections and clarifications: The Associated Press, citing unidentified sources, reported in January that Officer Brian Sicknick may have been hit in the head by a fire extinguisher. But no official cause of death has been released, and U.S. Capitol Police have said only that he died “due to injuries sustained while on-duty.”

The claim: Black Lives Matter protesters once protected a cop,  and rioters at the Capitol siege allegedly beat a police officer to death

After the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, many Americans criticized the police response to pro-Trump rioters, pointing to the heavy law enforcement presence at Black Lives Matter protests last year. One viral post claims that Black Lives Matter protesters in Louisville, Kentucky, protected a cop who had become separated from fellow officers and that rioters at the Capitol allegedly were responsible for an officer's death.

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“I remember the cop in Louisville that got separated from the group and the BLM protesters didn’t kill him. They protected him. I watched the maga rioters beat a cop to death with a fire extinguisher,” Aaron Brown wrote. A screenshot of Brown's post was shared by a Facebook page.

The post includes a photo of Black Lives Matter protesters, arms spread out, making a barrier in front of a lone police officer. The post has been shared more than 200 times.

USA TODAY has reached out to the Facebook page for comment. Brown could not be reached for comment.

Fact check: Meme inaccurately portrays police action at New York BLM protest

a man standing in front of a crowd: Five men, including Christopher Gales, Darren Lee Jr, Ricky McClellan and Julian "New Heightz" De La Cruz linked arms to keep a crowd of protesters away from LMPD officer Galen Hinshaw on the first night of protests in Louisville on May 28, 2020. © Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal Five men, including Christopher Gales, Darren Lee Jr, Ricky McClellan and Julian "New Heightz" De La Cruz linked arms to keep a crowd of protesters away from LMPD officer Galen Hinshaw on the first night of protests in Louisville on May 28, 2020.

BLM protesters protected the lone cop

It is true that Black Lives Matter protesters in Louisville protected a police officer who was alone, according to the Louisville Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.

The officer, Galen Hinshaw, was responding to another officer’s call for help over the radio, when he found himself alone in a crowd of protesters. He backed up against a wall and stopped to reassess the situation, when some protesters moved closer and started to shout at him.

As Hinshaw was scanning the crowd for weapons and waiting for help, a protester in a red University of Louisville mask stepped in front of him and the closest protester. Another protester, local entrepreneur Darrin Lee Jr., linked arms with the man in the red mask.

“Once I saw the guy with the red mask step up, I said, 'I gotta step up,'” Lee told the Courier Journal. “It was reactive. I just went.”

Fact check: Quotes from Democratic leaders about riots, unrest taken out of context

More protesters joined to form a barricade around Hinshaw until other officers arrived.

“Those guys, they saved me,” Hinshaw told the Courier Journal. “There’s no doubt about it.”

The photo included in the Facebook post was taken by Michael Clevenger, a journalist at the Courier Journal.

A U.S. Capitol Police officer died in rioting

A police officer died after he "was injured while physically engaging with protesters," according to Capitol Police. The circumstances of his death, however, are still being investigated and it is unclear if he was beaten to death, as the viral post alleges.

The officer, Brian Sicknick, died the next day in the hospital, where he was being treated for his injuries. His death is being treated as a homicide by federal and local authorities, according to USA TODAY.

a close up of a man smiling for the camera: U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick is the fifth person to die as a result of violence at the protest. © Provided by USA TODAY U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick is the fifth person to die as a result of violence at the protest.

More: Fact check: Viral images compare handling of Black Lives Matter protests and Capitol riot

Our rating: True

The claim that Black Lives Matter protesters in Louisville protected a cop who was separated from fellow officers and that a U.S. Capitol Police officer died after due to injuries sustained while on-duty is TRUE, based on our research.

Our fact-checking sources: 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: BLM protesters in Louisville protected a lone police officer

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