Washington: A second police officer who responded to the capitol riots in Washington on January 6, died by suicide, according to media reports citing the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert Contee’s statement on Wednesday (local time).
According to the Hill Contee identified the officer as Jeffrey Smith. He was injured while trying to help contain the mob of former President Trump’s supporters attempting to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s electoral victory.
“That was a very sad and tragic situation for us,” The Hill quoted Contee as saying, adding “He had been injured as a result of the confrontation that had occurred at the Capitol and a couple of days after that, the officer, he took his life.”
Contee said that Smith was apparently on his way to work on the George Washington Parkway when he took his own life. The US Park Police is handling the investigation of Smith’s death since it occurred in its jurisdiction.
“Obviously again, our condolences go to the Smith family, his entire family, for such a tragic loss,” MPD Chief added.
According to The Hill, at least two other police officers have also died in the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol. Howard Liebengood, a Capitol Police officer, also died by suicide after being on duty at the Capitol on January 6. Another Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died at a hospital one day after the riot after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher.
On Tuesday (local time), Contee said in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, in which he also revealed Smith’s death, that at least 65 MPD officers filed reports after they were injured while responding to the attack. He noted that “many more” officers were injured with scratches, bruises, or eyes burning from the bear spray but did not submit reports to document their injuries.
On Wednesday, the chairman of the Capitol Police officers’ union, Gus Papathanasiou stated that about 140 officers total between the US Capitol Police and MPD were injured. He noted that a number of Capitol Police officers were severely injured.
“I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake,” Papathanasiou said.
Papathanasiou called the Capitol Police’s failure to prepare for the violence and inform rank-and-file officers “unconscionable” and “inexcusable.”
“The officers are angry, and I don’t blame them. The entire executive team failed us, and they must be held accountable. Their inaction cost lives,” The Hill quoted Papathanasiou as saying.