Four officers who served at the Capitol on January 6th have committed suicide. That is a serious, somber fact, that should be addressed with care. Instead, some on the far-right are using it to build conspiracy theories, using the deaths to advance a political narrative.
While the public isn’t privy to all the machinations of an investigation of death, police don’t take the loss of one of their own lightly, and all four of these officers — US Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood and Metropolitan Police Officers Jeffrey Smith, Kyle DeFreytag, and Gunther Hashida — were all ruled to have died by suicide. Still, there are conspiracy theories claiming that they were killed to prevent them from testifying — and the people spreading them claim that it’s all an effort to protect Democrats.
The following post is from Laura Loomer, a 2020 Republican candidate from Florida for the U.S. House of Representatives, posted to her Telegram page.
Republicans need to investigate whether or not someone is murdering Capitol Police officers who responded to the Capitol on January 6th.
Nobody believes 4 of these officers committed suicide.
Republicans are more focused on “optics” instead of making bold and brave statements, but the American people see this for what it is. Evil and sinister.
Nancy Pelosi was in charge of the Capitol police on January 6 and now she’s in charge of the January 6 committee?
Witnesses have been jailed in solitary confinement and now police officer witnesses are dying from “suicide”?
The coverup of January 6 is in full swing.
The conspiracy theory hinges on the notion that Democrats, and in particular Nancy Pelosi, have something to cover up, that they were somehow responsible for an armed mob of Trump supporters going from the speech where he told them to “fight like hell” to keep him as president to the Capitol Building, where they attacked to prevent Joe Biden from being confirmed as the winner of the election.
A popular far-right claim is that Nancy Pelosi, the FBI, or other entities, working in opposition to Trump, either allowed the attack or even encouraged it, in order to make the then-president look bad. They typically (as in this case) make the false claim that Nancy Pelosi, as House Speaker, is “in charge of” the Capitol Police. USA Today explains at length here how completely untrue that is — in fact, several bipartisan committees in both the House and Senate have oversight, as well as the bipartisan and bicameral Capitol Police Board — none of which Pelosi is a part of.
Loomer later suggested that this is “what Democrats do” to prevent testimony, bringing up the tired old conspiracy theory about the Clintons.
As CNN reports, Capitol Officer Harry Dunn spoke in a Congressional hearing about the emotional aftermath of the attack, encouraging other officers who are struggling to seek help.
Respect for the officers who fought to protect Congress and American democracy that day may indeed involve questions about any connection between these deaths and the trauma these officers faced, but if so, it will be through appropriate questions and with respect to their loved ones — not by promoting conspiracy theories and false claims.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com