Widow of police officer who died by suicide after Capitol riot presses Biden for line of duty benefits – CNN

Smith is petitioning the Board to declare her husband’s suicide a line of obligation demise, so She …….

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Smith is petitioning the Board to declare her husband’s suicide a line of obligation demise, so She will proceed receiving well being and monetary advantages. Her lawyer used his short-term encounter with Biden On the White House on Thursday, simply after the official ceremony signing the measure to award officers the Congressional Gold Medal, to strain him To behave.

“I informed him, It is A great first step That you merely’re acknowledging Jeffrey Smith and Howard Liebengood’s sacrifice, However the gold medal Isn’t enough,” Smith’s lawyer David Weber informed CNN. “I requested the President, Do You understand thOn they took amethod their wives’ Medical insurance coverage And that i am preventing to have Jeffrey Smith’s [suicide] dominated a line of obligation demise?”

Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood died by suicide on January 9. His widow, Serena Liebengood, wrote an open letter to Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Virginia Democrat, in March nameing for US Capitol Police to declare her husband’s demise Inside The road of obligation.

Video from final Thursday On the White House captures Weber behind The podium the place the President had spoken earlier, as Vice chairman Kamala Harris chats with Erin Smith. As Biden prepares to make his method again Contained in the White House, Weber grabs his consideration and movements in the direction of Erin to explaInside the authorized battle They’re waging.

“He grimaced,” Weber renameed. “However then he gestured to a legislative aide.”

Weber said he acquired a name Decrease than 90 minutes after leaving their photograph op Contained in the Oval Office. A White House aide informed Weber that Biden had requested a short-terming on The drawback but thOn there was no dedication on whether or not the President might finally assist their case.

“They have been being very cautious,” Weber said.

The White House Did not immediately Reply to a request for remark.

The problem is now On the forefront since 4 officers — three Metropolitan Cops and one Capitol Police officer — have died by suicide since January 6. Washington, DC, regulation solely permits a surviving companion to acquire a survivor annuity and proceedd advantages if an officer dies Inside the efficiency of their obligation and the mightor determines the demise was not triggered “by his intention to Result in his personal demise.” Weber says There’s not a acknowledged case By which suicide of a Metropolitan Police officer has been declared a line of obligation demise.

However Weber argues the circumstances of Officer Smith’s case require an exception to the rule. The authorized short-term filed with the Police Board states Officer Smith was assaulted by the violent mob and hit Inside The prime with a metallic pole January 6; he died 9 days later after he shot himself Inside The prime the placeas driving to work from his home in Virginia to report for his scheduled shift. It was Alleged to be his first day again after looking for medical consideration for the accidents and psychological trauma he suffered on January 6.

“While the bullet might have been the exact Rationalization for demise,” Weber informed CNN, “the chain of events was set in movement January 6 and the chain was not damaged.”

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office and the Metropolitan Police Division Did not Reply to CNN’s requests for remark.

Weber has enlisted two specialists to argue to the Police Board that January 6 was the event that immediately led to his suicide. Jonathan Arden, The earlier chief Health worker for the District of Columbia, who was employed to consider the auprimesy and medical data of Officer Smith, declared in a submitting that “the acute, precipitating event” that triggered his demise “was his occupational publicity to the traumatic events he suffered on January 6, 2021.”

Officer Liebengood’s widow additionally recounted in her open letter how he was ordered To Carry on obligation “practinamey Throughout the clock” For 3 days after the Capitol assault, And the method he was “severely sleep disadvantaged” earlier than his January 9 suicide.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office has urged the Justice Division to approve line of obligation advantages in Liebengood’s case. A Pelosi spokesman said The factors raised by Officer Liebengood’s widow have been “properly-based.” In the event that they do not, she said, Congress would Search For methods To vary the regulation.

Officer Smith’s case, however, would require a change to DC regulation or an exemption from the mightor.