Officer Who Responded to Capitol Riot Dies by Suicide

Officer Who Responded to Capitol Riot Dies by Suicide

Security forces try to keep protesters outside the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 presidential election results by Congress in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2021. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

A Washington, D.C., police officer who responded to the U.S. Capitol riot died by suicide last week, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

“Officer Gunther Hashida, assigned to the Emergency Response Team within the Special Operations Division, was found deceased in his residence on Thursday, July 29,” department spokeswoman Kristen Metzger said in a statement on Monday.

“We are grieving as a Department and our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Hashida’s family and friends,” Metzger said.

Hashida, who joined the Metropolitan Police Department in 2003, is the third police officer known to have died by suicide after defending the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection. 

Both Metropolitan Police officer Jeffrey Smith and U.S. Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood responded to the Capitol riot and later died by suicide. Smith was a 12-year veteran of the force, while Liebengood served as a Capitol Police officer for 16 years.

Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick suffered strokes and died of natural causes one day after defending the Capitol as a mob of former president Trump’s supporters stormed the building.

Last month, Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn encouraged officers who responded to the riot to seek out professional help if they are in need.

“I want to take this moment and speak to my fellow officers about the emotions they are continuing to experience from the events of January 6. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional counseling,” Dunn said during a hearing before the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot. “What we all went through that day was traumatic, and if you are hurting, please take advantage of the counseling services that are available to us.”

Police officers and firefighters are at a higher risk for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide than any other profession, according to researchers. Many do not seek treatment.

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[By: Brittany Bernstein

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