(Reuters) – A District of Columbia retirement board has ruled that a police officer died in the line of duty when he took his own life due to injuries he suffered during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Post reported.
Washington's Police and Firefighters' Retirement and Relief Board said in a letter on Monday that Jan. 6 was the “sole and direct cause” of Metropolitan police officer Jeffrey Smith's suicide, the newspaper reported.
His widow Erin Smith fought for a year for the board to reverse an earlier decision denying her late husband's death was in the line of duty.
The latest ruling allows her to receive a yearly annuity equal to her husband's salary. It also opens the possibility for a memorial service to be held for him at the Capitol Rotunda and other honors typically bestowed to officers who died while on duty, the Post reported.
Medical reports submitted to the board said Smith lost consciousness after he was struck in the head during the riot. He later exhibited “mood and behavioral changes” that led to his suicide, the newspaper reported, citing the reports.
“Officer Jeffrey Smith would still be alive today if he hadnât risked his life to defend all of us at the U.S. Capitol and our democracy itself on January 6th,” U.S. Representative Don Beyer, who represents Smithâs district in Congress, said in a statement.
Smith was one of four Metropolitan police officers who have died by suicide after guarding the building that day.
Hundreds of then-President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the building that day in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden's presidential election win.
Four people died on the day of the violence.
A Capitol Police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the following day. More than 100 police officers were injured.
The mayhem led to Trump's second impeachment. More than 500 people have been arrested for their roles in the violence.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; editing by Jonathan Oatisditing by Jonathan Oatis)