D.C. police officer who died by suicide after Jan. 6 attack ruled LODD
Officer Jeffrey Smith’s widow says her husband is getting “the honor that he deserves”
Duty Death: Jeffrey Smith - [Washington, District of Columbia]
End of Service: 01/15/2021
Suicide is always preventable. If you are having thoughts of suicide or feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately at 800-273-8255. Counselors are also available to chat at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Remember: You deserve to be supported, and it is never too late to seek help. Speak with someone today.
By Suzie Ziegler
WASHINGTON — The death of a police officer who died by suicide in the days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol has been ruled a line-of-duty death, NBC News reported on Thursday. The ruling now makes his widow eligible for enhanced benefits.
“Based on evidence submitted by the petitioner and the Department, we find that 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,” the D.C. Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board wrote in a letter obtained by NBC News.
A medical examiner had previously said there was “a direct cause and effect relationship between the line of duty work trauma on Jan. 6 and Jeffrey Smith’s death,” according to NBC News. The examiner also said that Smith had “no prior history of depression, mental health issues or mental health treatment.”
David Weber, an attorney for Smith’s estate, tells NBC News that this ruling sets an important precedent.
"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," Weber said. "This will impact widows, widowers, children and parents of everyday heroes who have suffered these injuries in the line of duty."
Smith’s widow, Erin Smith, filed the claim in August to have Smith’s death reclassified. Now, she says her late husband can get “the honor that he deserves.”
Three more officers who died by suicide in the months after the Jan. 6 attack were D.C. Officers Gunther Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag, and U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood.