Newly released video footage has captured the cruel attacks and terrifying situation that a Capitol police officer endured just two weeks before he took his own life.
Officer Jeff Smith’s body camera footage reveals the harrowing reality of what unfolded in the halls of the Capitol building on January 6 2021.
In it, the officer is seen facing a barrage of physical and verbal attacks from rioters.
People are screaming and lining the walls of the monument as officers pass by.
One woman is seen telling Smith: “Get a real job. We don’t support y’all anymore.”
Outside, someone else is yelling repeatedly: “You stand with criminals! You stand with criminals!”
Then another person wearing a “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt chimes in, loudly: “They’re not here to protect the people. They’re here to protect a bunch of f***ing child rapists and corrupt politicians!”
The Capitol Police officers is also seen facing a number of physical tussles.
At one point, the officer is seen engaged in a struggle, being tossed about into a mob of people, where someone grabs his baton and begins using it against him.
Shortly after the scuffle, a fellow officer is heard asking the officer: “You good, Smith?” as he appears to be taking a quick breather to collect himself. Smith then grabs his helmet and continues on with his duty.
Later, Smith is heard talking to another officer, incredulous that the Capitol doors don’t lock as they are trying to remove rioters from the building.
“It’s the US Capitol and they don’t have a way to lock the door?” he asks.
The other officer says rioters broke the hinge on their way in.
At some time during the riot, a metal pole flew through the air, striking Smith.
He is seen in the bodycam footage saying he got “hit in the face with a f***ing piece of metal”.
Two weeks after that chilling day, Smith died by suicide. He had no history of depression, medical experts said at the time, and a medical examiner concluded he died of “post-concussion syndrome”.
Smith was one of four Capitol Police officers who took their own lives following the attack.
“He got more distant. He got angry. He was very short-tempered. And he was not himself,” his widow Erin Smith said of her late husband after his death.
That demeanour was “very out of character” for him.
The never-before-seen footage comes after House Speaker Mike Johnson announced that he is releasing the January 6 tapes. Mr Johnson said on 17 November that “nearly all of the footage” will be made available on the Committee of House Administration’s website, meaning more than 40,000 hours of tapes of the violent riot.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email [email protected], or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.