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Widow of law enforcement officer who died by suicide after Capitol riot presses Biden for line of duty added benefits

Smith is petitioning the board to declare her husband’s suicide a line of duty demise, so she can keep on getting health and fitness and economical advantages. Her lawyer utilised his brief come upon with Biden at the White Household on Thursday, just just after the formal ceremony signing the evaluate to award officers the Congressional Gold Medal, to tension him to act.

“I advised him, it is really a very good very first move that you’re acknowledging Jeffrey Smith and Howard Liebengood’s sacrifice, but the gold medal is not more than enough,” Smith’s lawyer David Weber instructed CNN. “I asked the President, did you know that they took absent their wives’ wellbeing insurance coverage and I’m combating to have Jeffrey Smith’s [suicide] dominated a line of duty death?”

Capitol Law enforcement Officer Howard Liebengood died by suicide on January 9. His widow, Serena Liebengood, wrote an open up letter to Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Virginia Democrat, in March calling for US Capitol Police to declare her husband’s demise in the line of responsibility.

Video from last Thursday at the White Residence captures Weber powering the podium where the President experienced spoken before, as Vice President Kamala Harris chats with Erin Smith. As Biden prepares to make his way again within the White Household, Weber grabs his consideration and motions towards Erin to clarify the authorized battle they are waging.

“He grimaced,” Weber recalled. “But then he gestured to a legislative aide.”

Weber mentioned he bought a contact a lot less than 90 minutes immediately after leaving their photograph op within the Oval Workplace. A White House aide advised Weber that Biden experienced asked for a briefing on the situation but that there was no commitment on whether or not the President could in the end enable their circumstance.

“They were currently being incredibly careful,” Weber said.

The White Dwelling did not instantly reply to a request for remark.

The difficulty is now at the forefront because four officers — 3 Metropolitan law enforcement officers and a person Capitol Law enforcement officer — have died by suicide due to the fact January 6. Washington, DC, legislation only permits a surviving husband or wife to get a survivor annuity and continued added benefits if an officer dies in the overall performance of their responsibility and the mayor establishes the dying was not caused “by his intention to provide about his personal demise.”

Smith instructed CNN’s Don Lemon on “Don Lemon Tonight” Monday that her husband turned “a entirely unique individual” following the Capitol assault. Inevitably he took his personal everyday living.

But, she stated, “because it’s not categorised as ‘in line of duty,’ you will not get any of the rewards that a police officer’s relatives would acquire if it was ‘in line of responsibility.’ The most important detail is they’re not regarded. They’re not provided the burial that they’re deserved. They are not offered the recognition they should have. My spouse, you know, was a police officer for DC for around 12 and a 50 {31a88af171d246f5211cd608fc1a29f7b3f03dea1b73b7097396b2358ee47fc4} decades.”

“He gave his everyday living for DC and he should be presented the exact same regard as any individual else that puts on the badge and goes to operate every working day,” Smith reported.

Weber suggests there is no acknowledged case in which suicide of a Metropolitan Law enforcement officer has been declared a line of duty demise.

But Weber argues the instances of Officer Smith’s situation require an exception to the rule. The authorized quick submitted with the law enforcement board states Officer Smith was assaulted by the violent mob and strike in the head with a metal pole January 6 he died 9 days afterwards right after he shot himself in the head while driving to perform from his dwelling in Virginia to report for his scheduled change. It was meant to be his to start with working day back again immediately after in search of health-related interest for the accidents and psychological trauma he experienced on January 6.

“When the bullet may well have been the precise trigger of death,” Weber advised CNN, “the chain of situations was set in movement January 6 and the chain was not broken.”

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office environment and the Metropolitan Police Section did not reply to CNN’s requests for remark.

Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood fingerprints a child during "Kid Safety Day," held in Washington DC, in April 2008. Liebengood died by suicide after the US Capitol riot in January 2021.

Weber has enlisted two gurus to argue to the law enforcement board that January 6 was the function that instantly led to his suicide. Jonathan Arden, the previous main professional medical examiner for the District of Columbia, who was employed to evaluation the autopsy and medical documents of Officer Smith, declared in a submitting that “the acute, precipitating celebration” that prompted his death “was his occupational exposure to the traumatic occasions he experienced on January 6, 2021.”

Officer Liebengood’s widow also recounted in her open letter how he was purchased to continue to be on obligation “practically all over the clock” for three times after the Capitol attack, and how he was “severely rest deprived” right before his January 9 suicide.

Residence Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s place of work has urged the Justice Section to approve line of responsibility benefits in Liebengood’s scenario. A Pelosi spokesman claimed the concerns elevated by Officer Liebengood’s widow ended up “very well-started.” If they do not, she said, Congress would appear for ways to alter the legislation.

Officer Smith’s case, having said that, would demand a modify to DC law or an exemption from the mayor.

Asked about lawmakers who have sought to transfer on from the Capitol insurrection, Erin Smith reported Monday, “They don’t relive it just about every working day.”

“I’m absolutely sure other officers have mentioned the exact thing. I was not there but I relive the identical point in excess of and about yet again,” she mentioned. “I know that if Jeffrey failed to go to operate that working day, he’d even now be listed here. The terror that he went as a result of affected him, and the town requirements to acknowledge that.”

This story has been up-to-date with additional info Monday.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.