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DC Police Officer’s Suicide Declared Line-of-Duty Death

March 11, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
<strong></img>DC Police Officer’s Suicide Declared Line-of-Duty Death</strong>
Officer Jeffrey Smith

WASHINGTON — The widow of a Washington Metropolitan Police officer won her struggle this week to have her husband’s suicide after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol declared a line-of-duty death.

Officer Jeffrey Smith died nine days after the attack by shooting himself in the head while driving to his job from his home in Northern Virginia.

He was one of four police officers stationed at the Capitol during the attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump who committed suicide within a few months afterward.

Initially the District of Columbia’s Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board declined to certify that Smith died as a victim of the insurrection.

The board sent an order to Erin Smith last week vacating the previous decision after it reconsidered the case.

The board’s revised ruling appears to be the first time a Metropolitan Police officer’s suicide was declared a line-of-duty death and one of only a few nationwide.

The new decision makes the family eligible for survivors benefits, which consist of an annuity equal to Smith’s pay. Erin Smith also will get health benefits.

Her attorney, David P. Weber, showed a video to the board in which Smith can be seen being struck in the head with a baton by an attacker. The attorney said the bullet was the proximate cause of death but the assault at the Capitol started the chain of events leading Smith to kill himself.

Smith was en route to his job on his first day back at work after seeking medical treatment for his injuries when he shot himself.

“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 Washington, D.C., Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board wrote to his wife.

Erin Smith told investigators her husband acted differently after getting hit in the head. She described him as irritable and distant.

Her account was backed up by a former District of Columbia chief medical examiner’s report that said there was “a direct cause and effect relationship between the line-of-duty work trauma on Jan. 6 and Jeffrey Smith’s death.”

It added that Smith had “no prior history of depression, mental health issues or mental health treatment.”

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com

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