WASHINGTON (CN) — The widow of Jeffrey Smith, a D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer who later died by suicide, filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the two men she says assaulted her late husband during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
While being escorted out of the Capitol by police officers, an unidentified individual in video footage allegedly handed David Kaufman, one of the rioters, a metal rod that looked like a cane or a crowbar.
Kaufman then violently swung the weapon and struck Jeffrey Smith in the face when his face shield was up, giving him a severe concussion and neck injuries, according to Friday's lawsuit.
“It appears that Kaufman and John Doe specifically and maliciously targeted Officer Smith because his visor was in the upright position, making him vulnerable to this brutal and vicious attack,” the complaint states.
Erin Smith, the officer’s wife, said that after Jan. 6, her husband seemed to slip into a deep depression, becoming quiet and moody — while still in pain from the assault.
The next week, Jeffrey Smith was ordered back to work, but shot himself with his service weapon on the way to his shift.
The cause of death was severe depression and brain injury, according to the lawsuit.
“The effects of postconcussive syndrome, in turn, includes health maladies such as severe depression and suicide,” the complaint states. “In other words, but for the concussion of Officer Smith at the hands of the defendants, Officer Smith would be alive today. He was killed in the line of duty by these defendants.”
Smith has been petitioning the Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board to declare her husband’s suicide as a line-of-duty death, so that he can receive recognition for his sacrifice and she can receive health and financial benefits.
But, unlike the military, police suicides aren’t considered line-of-duty death — so the odds are likely against Smith.
“It’s time for the mayor, the Metropolitan Police Department, the D.C. government, and other departments and governments around the country to recognize that silent injuries, these deaths, even when at a police officer’s own hand, are a direct result of the job they have been doing,” Smith wrote in a USA Today op-ed last week. “Their deaths are in the line of duty.”
Jeffrey Smith is one of four officers who have taken their lives in the aftermath of the insurrection.
Smith seeks $2 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.