Jeffrey L. Smith
Died2021 (2022)
Police career
Country United States of America
Allegiance District of Columbia
Department Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
Service years2009-2021[1]
RankPolice Officer

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 psychiatrist hired by Officer Smith's widow 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.[2] 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.[3] On March 7, 2022, Officer Smith's death was officially ruled line of duty by the District of Columbia.[4] After petition by his widow, the Court found that the "direct and sole" cause of Officer Smith's death were the injuries he received in the line of duty while responding to the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.[4][5]

Suicide and lawsuit

Smith, 35, shot himself in the head on the George Washington Memorial Parkway the day he was supposed to return to duty.[6][2][7] Smith's was the second of two reported police suicides to occur in the immediate aftermath of the storming of the Capitol, the other being that of the U.S. Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood.[6] In the months after the storming of the Capitol, it was generally reported that the deaths of five people who were present have, to varying degrees, been related to the event.[citation needed] Some members of Congress and press reports included these two suicides in the number of casualties, for a total of seven deaths.[8]

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".[9][2] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[3] On March 7, 2022, after petition by Officer Smith's widow, Officer Smith's death was ruled line of duty, and it was found that the "sole and direct" cause of Officer Smith's death were the injuries he received at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.[13] The D.C. Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board Order stated: "“Officer Smith sustained a personal injury on January 6, 2021, while performing his duties and that his injury was the sole and direct cause of his death."[14]

According to Officer Smith's attorney David P. Weber, "This is the first time where someone who has suffered a brain injury, and an emotional injury, has been acknowledged as a line-of-duty death. This will impact widows, widowers, children and parents of everyday heroes who have suffered these injuries in the line of duty."[4] Officer Smith's widow is now seeking to have Officer Smith's name added to the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial.[15][16]

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.[17][18]

See also

References

  1. ^ https://goodwinweberlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/7-30-2021-Opening-Brief-and-Cover-Letter-Redacted_Redacted.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ a b c "D.C. police officer's suicide after Jan. 6 riot declared line-of-duty death". NBC News. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  5. ^ Corse, Alexa (March 10, 2022). "Washington Police Officer's Post-Jan. 6 Suicide Deemed Line-of-Duty Death". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Two officers who helped fight the Capitol mob died by suicide. Many more are hurting". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  7. ^ "A Second Police Officer Who Responded to Capitol Riots Has Died by Suicide". People. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  8. ^ Multiple sources:
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "GWPLLC files opening brief in death of Police Officer from Capitol Insurrection". Goodwin Weber PLLC. July 30, 2021. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Villarreal, Alexandra (August 14, 2021). "Cybersleuths find men who allegedly attacked officer during US Capitol riot". The Guardian. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  13. ^ Dewan, Shaila (March 10, 2022). "Police Officer's Suicide After Jan. 6 Riot Is Ruled a Line-of-Duty Death". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  14. ^ "D.C. Officer's Suicide Following Jan. 6 Deemed a Line-of-Duty Death". Inside Edition. March 10, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  15. ^ "D.C. retirement board grants full pension to widow of officer who took his own life after Capitol riot". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  16. ^ Reuters (March 11, 2022). "D.C. board rules that officer who committed suicide after Jan. 6 died in line of duty". Reuters. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ President Biden Delivers Remarks and Signs H.R. 3325, retrieved August 7, 2021