- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 14, 2021

The widow of a D.C. police officer who died by suicide days after defending the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 has filed a lawsuit in federal court against two suspected rioters she says should be held responsible.

Erin Smith, the wife of late D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffrey Smith, sued both men in D.C. federal court Friday, seeking more than $7 million in damages for wrongful death and assault and battery.

Smith was struck in the face by something akin to a cane or a crowbar during the attack on the Capitol and died by suicide nine days later. The lawsuit alleges the rioters caused him to go on to take his life.

Video captured the melee inside the Capitol where Smith was struck. The lawsuit alleges that one of the defendants had been carrying the weapon and then provided it to the other suspected of swinging it.

“Smith suffered severe and permanent injuries to his head (concussion), and neck; he suffered great pain and mental anguish and mental distress; and he was otherwise damaged,” the lawsuit alleges.

Smith fatally shot himself Jan. 15. The lawsuit cites the findings of two doctors who assessed that Smith likely committed suicide while in a severely depressive state caused by the concussion.

Lawyers for Smith’s wife and widow filed the suit in D.C. federal court Friday against a named defendant and a John Doe. An amended complaint was filed early Saturday identifying both defendants by name.

Both defendants are accused of assault and battery and wrongful death. The man alleged to have supplied the weapon is also accused of aiding and abetting.

Internet sleuths identified the defendants this week, more than seven months since Jan. 6, and provided their names to lawyers suing the suspected rioters on behalf of the officer’s wife and estate. Neither defendant, however, has been charged with related crimes, and The Washington Times cannot independently confirm their identities and involvement, if any, in the Capitol riot and is not naming them.

The lawsuit describes the defendants as a D.C.-based chiropractor and a U.S. Navy veteran from Washington state. Court filings did not list a lawyer for either individual to be reached for comment.

Rioters stormed the Capitol as members of Congress met inside to count the Electoral College votes affirming the results of the 2020 presidential race. President Biden was inaugurated two weeks later.

At least four law enforcement offices who defended the Capitol building from rioters on Jan. 6 died by suicide afterward, including members of both the MPD and the U.S. Capitol Police Department.

More than 500 people have been charged with crimes related to the riot. The FBI declined to comment on the lawsuit and the claims raised therein when reached by The Washington Times over the weekend. 

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