Family of deceased Capitol Hill police officer implore Congress to establish riot commission

Senior Republicans are against investigating events of 6 January

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 19 May 2021 19:15 BST
GOP congressman confronted for likening capitol riot to ‘tourist visit’
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The family of Howie Liebengood, a Capitol Police officer who died by suicide following the 6 January riot, have called for Congress to establish the proposed commission to investigate the events of that day.

Virginia congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, who represents the family, published the statement on their behalf, noting that Mr Liebengood would still be alive today were it not for the attack on the Capitol.

“We believe a thorough, non-partisan investigation into the root causes of and the response to the January 6th riot is essential for our nation to move forward,” the family writes.

“Howie’s death was an immediate outgrowth of those events. Every officer who worked that day, as well as their families, should have a better understanding of what happened.”

The statement continues: “Uncovering the facts will help our nation heal and may lessen the lingering emotional bitterness that has divided our country. We implore Congress to work as one and establish the proposed Commission.”

Further to their calls for an official investigation into the violent insurrection that saw Capitol Police officers overwhelmed and attacked by pro-Trump rioters, the family is proud of the progress that has been made on supporting the mental health of the force.

“Additionally, improved mental health for USCP officers has been one of our goals for the past four months,” they wrote. “Through the tireless efforts of Congresswoman Wexton, we are honoured a wellness program bearing Howie’s name has been proposed in the security supplemental along with more resources for the program.

“We welcome and support the new funding and staffing initiatives that will help prevent future tragedies among the USCP.”

Mr Liebengood was the son and namesake of a former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, lobbyist and Hill staffer. He was on duty during the assault on the Capitol and took his own life in the days afterward.

A second officer, Jeffrey Smith, also took his own life in the days after the attack.

Senior Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have come out against the establishment of a commission to investigate the riot.

Five other people lost their lives during the events surrounding the insurrection, including Officer Brian Sicknick who died of a stroke after the assault on the building.

US Air Force veteran Ashli Babbit was shot by an officer while climbing through a barricaded door, and Rosanne Boyland was deemed to have died from an amphetamine overdose after reports she had been trampled.

Kevin Greeson and Benjamin Philips passed away from heart conditions in the crowds outside the building.

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