Jeffrey L. Smith, a Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police officer, shot himself on January 15, 2021, after he assisted the United States Capitol Police on January 6, during the response to the storming of the Capitol. A medical examiner found that drastic changes in Smith's behavior after January 6 are evidence that the attack on the Capitol was the precipitating event leading to his suicide. Some have included him as a casualty of the Capitol attack. On October 13, 2021, two United States Senators and several members of the House of Representatives called for the Mayor to award Line of Duty benefits to Officer Smith and his widow Erin Smith.
|2021 United States|
|Timeline of events|
On January 6, 2021, Donald Trump supporters protested his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. The protest escalated into fatal riots, and the protesters invaded the US Capitol as an attempt to overturn his defeat. Smith, a Metropolitan Police Officer, was positioned at the time on the West side of the Capitol to assist during the riots, and was attacked about the head and neck. On January 7, he visited the police medical clinic, reporting pain in his neck and face, and was given painkillers. There he was designated as "sick" and was placed on sick leave, but was discharged without a diagnosis. After a second appointment on January 14, he was restored to duty, starting January 15, against his wishes. According to Smith's family attorney, he was not offered counseling during his sick leave.
Smith shot himself in the head on the George Washington Memorial Parkway the day he was supposed to return to duty. Smith's was the second of two reported police suicides to occur in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection, the other being that of the U.S. Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood. In the months after the civil disturbance at the Capitol, it was generally reported that the deaths of five people who were present have, to a varying degree, been related to the event. Some members of Congress and press reports included these two suicides in the number of casualties, for a total of seven deaths.
Dr. Jonathan Arden, the former Chief Medical Examiner of the District of Columbia was hired by Smith's widow as part of her lawsuit to have her husband's suicide ruled "in the line of duty". His report stated that the "acute, precipitating event that caused the death of Officer Smith was his occupational exposure to the traumatic events he suffered on January 6, 2021". On July 30, his attorney David P. Weber filed the opening brief in the attempt, on behalf of Smith's widow, to have his death ruled line of duty. Submitting this report as evidence, on August 13, Smith's widow sued two of his alleged assailants, claiming they caused a traumatic brain injury with a crowbar or a heavy walking stick, leading to his death. According to media reports, Smith's alleged attackers, named in the federal lawsuit were identified by an internet vigilante group that analyzed publicly available videos from the Capitol attack.
On October 17, 2021, NBC News reported that the Virginia Congressional delegation had written to the Washington, DC Mayor noting that Smith's death was causally related to the Capitol Riot, and urged her to grant line of duty death benefits to Officer Smith's widow Erin Smith.
On August 5, 2021, Jeffrey L. Smith, along with Capitol Police officers Brian Sicknick, Howard Liebengood and Billy Evans, was posthumously honored in a signing ceremony for a bill to award Congressional Gold Medals to Capitol Police and other January 6 responders. His name is noted in the text of the bill, and President Biden remarked on his death.