WASHINGTON — A D.C. police officer who responded to the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol died by suicide in the weeks after the events, according to acting D.C. Police chief.
Officer Jeffrey Smith is one of two cops to die by suicide due to the aftermath of the riots at the U.S. Capitol. Acting D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee announced Smith's death while addressing a closed session of the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday evening.
“We honor the service and sacrifices of officers Brian Sicknick, Howard Liebengood, and Jeffrey Smith, and offer condolences to all the grieving families,” Contee said. "The costs for this insurrection – both human and monetary – will be steep."
Contee said 65 D.C. Police officers were injured – ranging from scratches, bruises, eyes burning and injuries from mace.
Back on Jan. 10, U.S. Capitol Police said officer Howard Liebengood, 51, also died by suicide days after the riots. According to U.S. Capitol police officials, Liebengood died on Saturday, Jan. 9. A spokesperson with the U.S. Capitol Police said Liebengood was assigned to the Senate Division and had been with the department since April 2005.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues. We ask that his family and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time," the department said in a release.
According to CBS News, Liebengood's father, Howard Liebengood Sr, served as the Senate sergeant-at-arms from 1981 until 1983.
Two law enforcement officials told The Washington Post that he had died by suicide, days after being on the scene of Wednesday’s riots. The officials spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to release details that were not being made public.
"We are reeling from the death of officer Liebengood," United States Capitol Police Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement. "Every Capitol Police Officer puts the security of others before their own safety and Officer Liebengood was an example of the selfless service that is the hallmark of USCP."
News of Liebengood's death came days after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, breaching all police barricades and forcefully entering the building.
The Capitol was placed on lockdown, police ordered evacuations, and the certification of Electoral College votes, which had just begun minutes before rioters broke in, was delayed.
Five other people have died. One rioter was shot and killed inside the U.S. Capitol by USCP, three other people died of medical emergencies and one U.S. Capitol police officer died after he was hurt during the riots.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.