The Department of Justice ruled on Friday that Metropolitan Police Department officer Jeffrey Smith’s death, which occurred by suicide shortly after the Capitol riots in January 2021, will be considered a line-of-duty death.
“When my husband died, I was denied the line-of-duty benefits that he deserved,” Erin Smith told The Hill on Friday, “but I knew from the beginning that Jeffrey died in the line of duty from the injuries he suffered on January 6.”
Jeffrey Smith had served for 12 years in the force and was assigned to patrol in the second District. During the riots, he assisted the Capitol Police and sustained an injury when struck by a metal pole. Subsequent to the event, his behavior reportedly changed. On January 15, he took his own life with a handgun. He was 35 years old.
“What we learned was that Jeffrey’s injuries clearly caused his death, Smith continued. “Right then, I decided that we needed to seek the line-of-duty death benefits, and we needed to change the law to allow such claims.”
The new ruling has made the Smith family beneficiaries of President Biden’s Public Safety Officer Support Act, which was signed into law exactly one year before Friday’s ruling. This legislation offers benefits to public safety officers and their survivors if injuries or death occur in the line of duty.
“The act specifies that post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, or trauma and stress-related disorders suffered by a public safety officer following an exposure to a traumatic event while on duty constitutes a personal injury in the line of duty if exposure to the traumatic event was a substantial factor in the disorder,” according to the text of the legislation.
On January 6, approximately 850 Metropolitan Police Department members were present at the Capitol to assist the U.S. Capitol Police. By day’s end, an additional 250 MPD members had arrived to support the response and its aftermath.
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