January 28th, 2021
DC police: Two officers died by suicide after responding to Capitol riot
On Tuesday, Robert J. Contee, Acting Metropolitan Police Chief, told the House Appropriations Committee that two police officers, who responded to the U.S. Capitol riot, have died by suicide.
"Tragically, two officers who were at the Capitol on January 6th, one each from the Capitol Police and MPD, took their own lives in the aftermath of that battle," Contee said in his statement.
Further, Contee said that about 850 Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) members were at the Capitol on Jan. 6.But, by the end of the day 250 more MPD members were there in the area to directly support the response.Those numbers seem lackluster compared to the sheer force of the mob that attack the Capitol and shows a communication breakdown between Washington Metro PD, the Capitol police and the National Guard. Many questions have been raised about why the forces were not more prepared for the oncoming crowd. One video from TikTok shows the police vastly outnumbered at one entry point, and their lines soon broke. Another video at a different entry point shows officers allowing one group in, with one officer stating, "I disagree with it, but I respect what you’re trying to do."
Five people lost their lives directly because of the Jan. 6 incident, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.Additionally, two police officers – one from U.S. Capitol Police and other D.C. Metro Police - "took their own lives in the aftermath of that battle," Contee said.Officers Howard Liebengood (USCP), a 15-year veteran, and Jeffery Smith (MPD), a 12-year veteran, apparently "took their own lives," according to Contee. Officer Liebengood's death was revealed previously, but the Police Chief's recent testimony revealed the tragic death of Officer Smith. Contee added, "We honor the service and sacrifices of Officers Brian Sicknick, Howard Liebengood, and Jeffery Smith, and offer condolences to all the grieving families."
The Capitol police did not give the cause of death in their statement initially.
Further, Contee’s testimony revealed that 65 MPD members suffered injuries as per the injury reports, but many more didn’t “even bother to report” additional injuries, such as scratches, bruises, eyes burning.
Contee also talked of "tepid response" from the Army in sending National Guard.Gus Papathanasiou, the Capitol Police Labor Committee Chair, issued a statement following Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman’s admission that they had intelligence warning of a potential attack on the Capitol. He called their failure to adequately prepare "unconscionable" and to relay that info to on-duty officers "inexcusable." The union chair also mentioned that some officers were not even issued helmets and listed several injuries sustained by officers.Following the attack, both the head of the Capitol police and two senior officials stepped down due to what Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called “a failure of leadership at the top.” More investigations into the attack and response from authorities are ongoing. Pittman recently confirmed reports that Capitol Police Board members denied a January 4th request from then-Police Chief Steven Sund to declare a state of emergency and authorize help from the National Guard. Sund has since resigned, and Papathanasiou indicated in an email to The Hill that he wants acting Chief Pittman gone as well. He has also indicated his support for Inspector Tom Loyd for that position.