Africa & World

Four officers who warded off US Capitol attack have died of suicide

THE US District of Columbia’s police department has announced that two more police officers who responded to the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol have died by suicide, bringing to four the number of known suicides by officers on duty at the building that day.

Metropolitan Police Officer Gunther Hashida was found dead in his home on Thursday, department spokesman Hugh Carew said in a statement.

Hashida joined the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in May 2003.

“We are grieving as a department and our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Hashida’s family and friends,” the police spokesman was quoted by news reports as saying.

Another MPD officer who responded to the Capitol on January 6, Kyle DeFreytag, was found dead on July 10, Carew said. DeFreytag’s cause of death was also suicide, Carew said.

He had been with the force since November 2016.

MPD Officer Jeffrey Smith and US Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood also responded to the Capitol riot.

At a closed-door meeting with leaders of Congress in January, Acting Chief of Police Robert Contee III told legislators that Smith took his life “in the aftermath of that battle”.

Meanwhile, Liebengood died by suicide just three days after supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Four people died on a day of unprecedented violence in the US.

A Capitol police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the following day. More than 100 police officers were injured.

The mayhem led to Trump’s second impeachment trial. More than 500 people have been arrested for their roles in the violence.

During emotional testimony last week, four police officers told a House of Representatives special committee that they were beaten, threatened, taunted with racial insults, and thought they might die as they struggled to defend the Capitol against the mob.

The deadly January 6 attack has prompted Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell to file a civil lawsuit against Trump and Republican Congressman Mo Brooks, accusing them of inciting people. – Al Jazeera

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