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Capitol police officer's family says riot 'trauma' prompted suicide; seeks 'line of duty' designation

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If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The family of a U.S. Capitol Police officer who took his own life in the days following the Jan. 6 insurrection has released a public statement calling for him to be recognized as suffering a line of duty death, according to a recent report.

Officer Howard Liebengood took his own life while off duty on Jan. 9 at the age of 51, officials confirmed at the time. Now, in a statement provided to local affiliate Fox5DC, his loved ones say his death was a direct result of “the trauma he experienced on the job.”

“Howie Liebengood was a dedicated and beloved officer who served the public for 15 years,” a family spokesperson said. “The trauma he experienced on the job resulted in his death. His family hopes and expects the Capitol Police will give him the recognition he deserves, and designate him as an officer who died in the line of duty.”

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood in an undated photograph provided by family

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood in an undated photograph provided by family
((Family handout))

The spokesperson also provided a photograph of Liebengood smiling.

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U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) confirmed the news of Liebengood’s death on Jan. 10, saying in a statement the officer had been with the force since April 2005 and was assigned to the Capitol’s Senate division. According to Fox5, his father is former Senate Sergeant at Arms Howard S. Liebengood.

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“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues,” a USCP statement read. “We ask that his family, and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time.”

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman did not say during Thursday’s hearings whether she viewed Liebengood as dying in the line of duty, Fox5 reported.  

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On Jan. 6, hundreds of protesters – some armed with guns, tactical gear and zip ties – pushed their way into the halls of the U.S. Capitol, where they smashed or dismantled property and went into House and Senate leaders’ chambers. Hill staffers and lawmakers were placed under lockdown or hid behind chairs and under desks and tables.

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Five people, including another U.S. Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died during or in connection with the siege.

The Justice Department has reportedly charged more than 250 people in connection with the riot so far.

Fox News’ Leah Crawley and Fox5DC reporter Lindsay Watts contributed to this story.

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