The criminal complaint says Walls-Kaufman “engaged in a fight with law enforcement officers” inside the Capitol, but says nothing about an assault outside the building, where Smith was been struck with a heavy metal object.
The civil lawsuit, which is ongoing, says online sleuths identified Walls-Kaufman and another man as Smith’s attackers last year. The criminal complaint filed Thursday references those detectives, though it does not mention Smith’s name.
According to the lawsuit, Walls-Kaufman struck Smith with the officer’s own baton while Smith’s face was exposed and vulnerable. The original lawsuit described the object used to assault Smith as a heavy cane or a crowbar; it was recently edited to include photos from Smith’s body camera, which the suit says shows the officer being hit with his own baton.
Through an attorney, Walls-Kaufman responded to the lawsuit saying he “specifically denies assaulting Officer Smith.” The attorney did not respond to requests for comment on Walls-Kaufman’s arrest Wednesday night or Thursday morning. The other man identified in the lawsuit has not been charged with a crime.
Smith’s family said he suffered an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury, leading him to take his own life. According to court records from the trial, he lost consciousness during the riot and suffered severe pain in its wake. A man who had no mental health problems in the past could no longer concentrate or sleep, according to his lawyer and his wife; he committed suicide the day he was to return to work.
In March, the DC Police and Firefighters Retirement and Relief Board awarded Smith’s wife a full pension, ruling Smith’s injury on January 6, 2021, the “sole and direct cause of her death.” The decision came after months of advocacy by Smith’s wife and members of Congress.
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David P. Weber, who represents Erin Smith, said the widow “thanks the Department of Justice for this first step.” Weber said Erin Smith is “waiting for word” on whether charges will be brought against a second man he identified in his civil lawsuit who he says also assaulted the officer, and a third man who was not identified and seen in photos swinging a metal pipe.
The attorney said Erin Smith “understands and respects the complexity of the charging decisions and is hopeful that more charges will be announced.”
Weber said Erin Smith intended to attend Thursday night’s House committee meeting on the Jan. 6 attack and was in discussions with congressional staff to testify at a future hearing.
Devlin Barrett and Clarence Williams contributed to this report.