US Capitol Police Announce Death of Off-Duty Officer

US Capitol Police Announce Death of Off-Duty Officer
Police officers in riot gear walks towards the U.S. Capitol as a group protesters breached the Capitol building in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

The U.S. Capitol Police has confirmed the "off-duty" death of one of its officers on Jan. 9.

The department said in a statement that the "Capitol Police is deeply saddened by the off-duty death on January 9, 2021, of Officer Howard Liebengood, age 51."

"He was assigned to the Senate Division, and has been with the Department since April 2005. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues. We ask that his family, and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time," according to the office.

The cause of death has not been released.

The death follows days after a Capitol Police officer died Jan. 7 due to injuries while on duty as officers responded to unrest at the Capitol a day earlier. The officer, Brian Sicknick, died at about 9:30 p.m., according to the department, adding that it “expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague.”

He was “injured while physically engaging with protesters,” according to the USCP. “He returned to this division office and collapsed,” the department’s announcement reads. “He was taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.”

Sicknick’s father said Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the family on Jan. 8 to offer their condolences. During the call, Pelosi invited the family to the Capitol to pick out a spot for a plaque in Sicknick’s honor. Funeral services also will be held at the Capitol, according to his father.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate's Republican leadership, said that he will "be interested in finding out if there was a connection with Officer Liebengood."

"But mostly I'm interested in reaching out to both of these families. These are people we saw every day, particularly Officer Liebengood, who was very much assigned to the Senate side of the building. And, you know, you have that loss. You have four other deaths of people who got involved in something that they absolutely should not have gotten involved in," Blunt told CBS News on Jan. 10.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Air Force veteran, Ashley Babbitt (also spelt Ashli), was shot and killed by a law enforcement officer amid the chaos.

The videos suggest a lack of communication between the officers, said Mark Lomax, who was executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association and is CEO of the consulting firm Lancer Cobbs.

“There were police on the protesters' side, engaged and embedded with these individuals,” he said. “It did not seem like a threatening situation for the officers.”

Reuters and AP contributed to this report.