Beyer Welcomes Designation Of Line-Of-Duty Death Designation For Fallen Capitol Defender Officer Jeffrey Smith
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), who represented fallen MPD Officer Jeffrey Smith, today welcomed the D.C. Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board’s determination “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.” Officer Smith died by suicide days after he responded to the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The Board’s determination, which has important repercussions for Officer Smith’s surviving next of kin, came after a struggle of over a year by his widow, Erin Smith, to win official recognition of the fact that her husband’s death occurred in the line of duty.
“Officer Jeffrey Smith would still be alive today if he hadn’t risked his life to defend all of us at the U.S. Capitol and our democracy itself on January 6th. His heroism led to his death, which absolutely occurred in the line of duty, and the official acknowledgement of that fact is an important moment that I hope will bring a measure of solace to his family and friends. I am particularly thinking of Erin Smith tonight, who has shown remarkable tenacity and courage through the terrible ordeal that began with the loss of her husband and lasted through the long fight to win this recognition.
“I continue to support full memorial honors for Officer Smith. With the official recognition that Officer Smith’s death occurred in the line of duty, there should be no question that he deserves them.
“Going forward, it remains incumbent on policymakers, including Congress, to continue to update our laws in ways that remove stigma wrongly attached to suicide. Far too many people in uniform have been lost to suicide after experiencing severe trauma, and we owe it to them to right this wrong and fight for more empathetic responses to their struggles and sacrifices even as we fight the scourge of suicide itself. This moral imperative is made clearer by the loss of Jeffrey Smith and his fellow officers after their bravery at the Capitol on January 6th.”