December 6, 2021

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Wife of Capitol police officer who killed himself sues rioter caught by online sleuths

The wife of Washington DC police officer Jeffrey Smith, who killed himself nine days after the January riot, has filed a lawsuit against two individuals she accuses of attacking him.

In a court filing on Friday, Erin Smith said the altercation between her husband, a veteran officer with Washington DC’s police force (MPD), and an unidentified rioter led to him suffering a traumatic brain injury, and his death.

He killed himself nine days after the riot, on 15 January, in what Ms Smith alleged was the result of “post-concussion syndrome” and “mental anguish” following the assault, according to reports.

The lawsuit alleges that Mr Smith was seen in footage in an altercation with followers of former US president Donald Trump, who stormed the US Capitol to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The officer of 12 years was allegedly seen collapsing after an individual swung a crowbar at his face or head.

A lawyer for his family, David Weber, told HuffPost that he approached a group of online sleuths called the “Deep State Dogs” to find footage of Mr Smith from 6 January, and to help identify the rioters responsible for his injuries.

It followed an apparent refusal from the MPD to release footage from the officer’s body camera, and of the FBI to investigate the rioters who assaulted Mr Smith as he defended Congress. What happened to him that day was unknown until sleuths found footage of him – identified by his ID badge – being beaten.

“We felt we had to do something to honour the memory and family of Officer Smith,” one of the so-called sleuths, Forrest Rogers, told HuffPost. “It’s terrible that the bereaved were left in that situation, so we turned to the thing we do best: finding bad guys.”

Mr Weber, who is also a forensics professor, said it should not have taken “a forensics professor on summer break to do the government’s work”, in remarks reported by The Washington Post.

His law firm filed the lawsuit in US District Court in Washington for wrongful death and assault and battery against a man, with an amendment on Saturday naming a second man, according to reports. Both men have been named in the filing but remains unclear if they were involved.

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