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.[1] 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.[2]

Background

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[4] After a second appointment on January 14, he was restored to duty, starting January 15, against his wishes.[5] According to Smith's family attorney, he was not offered counseling during his sick leave.[4]

Suicide and lawsuit

Smith shot himself in the head on the George Washington Memorial Parkway the day he was supposed to return to duty.[4][1] 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.[4] 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.[6]

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".[7][1] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

Honors

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.[12][13]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Dewan, Shaila (July 30, 2021). "He Killed Himself After the Jan. 6 Riot. Did He Die in the Line of Duty?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  2. ^ correspondent, Leigh Ann CaldwellLeigh Ann Caldwell is an NBC News. "After the Jan. 6 riot, police departments confront the mental health toll of the job". NBC News. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  3. ^ "Pro-Trump mob storms US Capitol in bid to overturn election". AP News. January 6, 2021. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Two officers who helped fight the Capitol mob died by suicide. Many more are hurting". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  5. ^ Mangan, Kevin Breuninger,Dan (August 2, 2021). "Two more police officers die by suicide after defending Capitol during riot by pro-Trump mob, tally now 4". CNBC. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  6. ^ Multiple sources:
  7. ^ "DECLARATION OF DR. JONATHAN L. ARDEN" (PDF). Goodwin Weber PLLC. July 29, 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 3, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  8. ^ "GWPLLC files opening brief in death of Police Officer from Capitol Insurrection". Goodwin Weber PLLC. July 30, 2021. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  9. ^ Hermann, Peter (August 14, 2021). "Family of D.C. officer who died by suicide after Capitol riot files lawsuit against alleged attackers". Washington Post. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  10. ^ Villarreal, Alexandra (August 14, 2021). "Cybersleuths find men who allegedly attacked officer during US Capitol riot". The Guardian. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  11. ^ correspondent, Leigh Ann CaldwellLeigh Ann Caldwell is an NBC News. "After the Jan. 6 riot, police departments confront the mental health toll of the job". NBC News. Retrieved October 18, 2021.
  12. ^ Pelosi, Nancy (August 5, 2021). "H.R.3325 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): To award four congressional gold medals to the United States Capitol Police and those who protected the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021". www.congress.gov. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  13. ^ President Biden Delivers Remarks and Signs H.R. 3325, retrieved August 7, 2021