A second police officer who responded to the violent insurrection that rocked the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 has died by suicide, according to testimony obtained by POLITICO.
Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee told House appropriators during a closed-door session on Tuesday that Jeffrey Smith, a D.C. Police officer, and Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood both “took their own lives in the aftermath of that battle.”
Smith’s death had not been disclosed prior to Contee’s testimony.
A third member of law enforcement, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, died from injuries he sustained during the Capitol attack.
“We honor the service and sacrifices of Officers Brian Sicknick, Howard Liebengood, and Jeffery Smith, and offer condolences to all the grieving families,” Contee said in his testimony.
The report of an additional officer’s death once again shook Capitol Hill, where many members and staff are still reeling in the three weeks since the insurrection. Five people died as a result of the riots, and two officers later died by suicide — a death toll that has horrified lawmakers of both parties and led them to demand answers from Capitol security officials.
Congress is still grappling with the political ramifications of the events of Jan. 6, with the Senate in the early stages of an impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump. But lawmakers are also deep into an investigation into the many security lapses that left so many Capitol Police and MPD officers outnumbered and vulnerable to attack by the mob.
Lawmakers heard from law enforcement officials for the first time about the Capitol security breaches during the briefing with the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, when Yogananda D. Pittman, the acting head of the U.S. Capitol Police, said the department was outmanned and unprepared for the attack.
Pittman also admitted that the Capitol Police Board denied a request on Jan. 4 for additional support from the National Guard. It wasn’t until the building was overrun by a pro-Trump mob the panel relented, an hour after another plea was made.
Appropriators left the briefing with a number of questions — chiefly, that intelligence agencies had “ample evidence an angry mob would descend on Washington” and they failed to “act on this intelligence or adequately prepare for the looming threat,” House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement after the briefing.
Contee told appropriators that about 850 MPD officers responded to the riot and 65 members sustained documented injuries.
“Many more sustained injuries from the assault — scratches, bruises, eyes burning from bear mace — that they did not even bother to report,” he said.
MPD’s estimate for the response totals about $8.8 million, he said.
“The costs for this insurrection — both human and monetary — will be steep,” Contee said. “The immediate fiscal impact is still being calculated.”