Police Officer Who Responded to Capitol Riot Dies Off Duty

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WASHINGTON — Four days after a violent mob stormed the Capitol, overrunning its police force, an officer who was assigned to protect the Senate during the siege died off duty, the Capitol Police announced on Sunday.

The Capitol Police union said that Officer Howard Liebengood, a 15-year veteran of the force, “was among the officers who responded to the rioting at the U.S. Capitol” on Wednesday, when insurrectionists incited by President Trump attacked the seat of American government.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Officer Liebengood’s family, and we mourn the death of a friend and colleague who worked alongside us to protect the lives of the members of Congress, their staff and all who serve at the U.S. Capitol,” the statement from the union said.

Officer Liebengood, 51, had been a Capitol Police officer since 2005 and was assigned to the agency’s Senate division. His father, who shared his name, served as the sergeant-at-arms, the chief security official, of the Senate from 1981 to 1983. Officer Liebengood is the second Capitol Police officer to die in the aftermath of the riot.

In a statement on Sunday, the Capitol Police said only that Officer Liebengood’s death took place “off duty,” but did not provide the cause or answer further questions.

His family also declined to comment, releasing a statement through their lawyer, Barry J. Pollack: “Mr. Liebengood’s family members wish to grieve privately as they mourn the sudden and heartbreaking loss of Howard Liebengood. He will be sorely missed.”

“We are reeling from the death of Officer Liebengood,” said Gus Papathanasiou, the chairman of the union. “Every Capitol Police officer puts the security of others before their own safety, and Officer Liebengood was an example of the selfless service that is the hallmark of U.S.C.P. This is a tragic day.”

The news rocked the force days after another officer, Brian D. Sicknick, died on Thursday of injuries he sustained when he engaged with the mob that attacked the Capitol. At least four civilians have died in connection with the siege.

Lawmakers have demanded investigations and accountability based on arguably the most significant security failure in decades. The chief of the Capitol Police, as well as the sergeants-at-arms of both the House and the Senate, have been fired or resigned.

“The U.S. Capitol Police just announced the tragic death of Officer Howard Liebengood — for whom I mourn,” Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Our officers need more than gratitude. They need authentic, capable leadership and meaningful support, and I call on my colleagues to join me demanding it immediately.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also offered condolences in a statement that called Officer Liebengood “a patriot who dedicated his life to defending the Capitol and protecting all who serve, work in and visit this temple of our democracy.”

“His passing is a great tragedy that compounds the horror of this past week,” Ms. Pelosi said.

Ian Koski, a former aide to Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, posted to Twitter a photo of Officer Liebengood smiling with a handful of cookies in December 2014.

“He was a real person and a good guy, and this is a terrible tragedy,” Mr. Koski wrote.


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