Widow of DC Cop Jeffrey Smith, Who Killed Himself After Jan. 6 Capitol Riots, Says the Violence Changed Him

Jeffrey Smith
D.C. Police Officer Jeffrey Smith on Jan. 6, 2021.CBS News/Erin Smith

Washington, D.C., police officer Jeff Smith took his own life after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. His widow says the violence broke his spirit.

The widow of D.C. police officer Jeffrey Smith, who took his own life nine days after the U.S. Capitol riots, says her husband was never the same after he was attacked on that fateful day.

Erin Smith received an email earlier this month from Washington, D.C., officials saying her husband's suicide was caused by injuries he endured while battling violent demonstrators and therefore his death occurred in the line of duty.

The ruling enabled her to receive his full pension, and she says, established a fitting legacy for her dead husband.

She fought for more than a year to get that designation. And now she is pressing Congress to pass legislation doing much the same.

"Honestly, I couldn't believe it," Smith told CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane in an exclusive interview.

Four officers who responded on Jan. 6 died by suicide within seven months.

Smith said she believed the district was initially reluctant to designate Jeff's death as occurring in the line of duty because "with a suicide comes a stigma and something that the police department doesn't want to face or recognize." 

After Jeff died, she lost health insurance and much of the family income. 

"It's hurtful and it's sad that they can't even reach out to the widow of one of their own officers," Erin said. The D.C. Police Department and the mayor's office declined to comment to the network.

"I'm fighting for my husband but I'm also fighting for everyone else who has gone through this as well," Erin said. "And it deserves the recognition." 

A House select committee is investigating the deadly and violent attack on the Capitol, after Donald Trump extolled protesters to "fight like hell" against election results that declared Joe Biden the presidential winner.

The panel is probing a "possible cover-up" of Donald Trump’s phone logs from that bloody day, which show an unexplained gap of seven hours and 37 minutes as the president's supporters invaded the country's seat of government, according to a joint report this week by CBS News and The Washington Post.

The House panel is now investigating whether Trump spoke that day through backchannels, including the phones of aides or personal disposable phones, known as "burner phones," according to two people with knowledge of the probe, CBS and the Post reported. The committee is also probing whether it received the full log from that day, the news agencies said.

In a statement Monday night, Trump said, "I have no idea what a burner phone is, to the best of my knowledge I have never even heard the term."

On Tuesday, John Bolton, the former national security adviser in the Trump administration, told CBS News that he had heard former President Donald Trump use the phrase "burner phones" in several discussions and Trump knew what it meant. 

Bolton said he and Trump had spoken about how people have used "burner phones" to avoid having their calls scrutinized, CBS News reported.

Related Stories