Several deaths have been attributed to the mayhem on Capitol Hill earlier this month, including one police officer who died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot.
In the days since that Jan. 6 event, however, at least two officers have reportedly died as a result of suicide. The most recent case was announced by a law enforcement official earlier this week.
“Condolences to all the grieving families”
According to The Hill, Jeffrey Smith is believed to have taken his own life in recent days after he responded to the breach of the Capitol building by a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters.
The tragic news came by way of a statement from Chief of Metropolitan Police Robert Contee during testimony to the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.
“We honor the service and sacrifices of Officers Brian Sicknick, Howard Liebengood, and Jeffery Smith, and offer condolences to all the grieving families,” Contee said.
Sicknick died from his injuries a short time after the riot, and subsequent reports indicated that Liebengood died by suicide several days later.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Contee went into more detail, indicating that Smith had been injured during the riot and later killed himself while on the George Washington Parkway during his commute to work. U.S. Park Police officers are investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.
“Dealing with constant trauma”
“That was a very sad and tragic situation for us,” Contee explained. “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.”
A 12-year veteran assigned to patrol, Smith had been working in the 2nd District, including the neighborhoods of Chevy Chase, Cleveland Park, and Georgetown.
Liebengood, who had worked with the Capitol Police for 15 years at the time of the riot, was the first officer to have reportedly taken his own life in the wake of the deadly incident. Sicknick died the day after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher during the riot, The Hill noted.
In addition to officers on the scene, one Trump supporter, identified as Ashli Babbitt, was fatally shot inside the Capitol building, and three others were confirmed dead from medical emergencies, according to reports. With roughly 850 Metropolitan Police officers on the scene at the height of the chaos, Contee told Congress that at least 65 of them reported injuries, and “many more” suffered unreported scratches or bruises.
Of course, he made it clear that the Jan. 6 event was not the first trying situation officer had been called to address in recent months, adding: “While the police officers are out here, you know, they’ve been in, really in a state of just dealing with constant trauma since the beginning of the unrest in the early part of the summer.”