Erin Smith says her husband would still be alive if not for the January 6 Capitol riot.
Jeffrey Smith, a DC police officer, shot and killed himself nine days after working the riot.
Erin Smith says video of the riot shows her husband being hit in the head with a metal pole.
The widow of Jeffrey Smith, a DC Metropolitan police officer who died by suicide after the Capitol riot, said her husband would still be alive if not for his experience on January 6.
Erin Smith told NBC's "Weekend Nightly News" in an interview set to air Sunday that Jeffrey Smith, a 12-year veteran officer, changed after the "traumatic situation" at the Capitol.
"He got more distant. He got angry. He was very short tempered. And he was not himself," Erin Smith said, according to a transcript of the interview shared with Insider.
She told NBC News' Leigh Ann Caldwell that the behavior was "very out of character" for Jeffrey Smith, who she described as a "fun guy" who "was always dancing around the house, making jokes, kind of an uplifting person that would keep you smiling and laughing."
"If it wasn't for January 6, he would still be here," Erin Smith said.
Jeffrey Smith, who was 35 at the time of his death, died nine days after working the Capitol riot, during which he was struck in the head by a metal pole, according to his wife.
Video from that day captured the attack and showed Jeffrey Smith knocked to the ground, apparently unconscious, according to a lawsuit filed by Erin Smith against the alleged attackers.
He shot and killed himself while driving on the George Washington Memorial Parkway the day after he was ordered to return back to work.
Erin Smith wrote in an op-ed for USA Today that medical experts, including the former DC chief medical examiner, told her the events of January 6 directly caused her husband's death.
She has called for his death to be classified as in-the-line-of-duty, which she says comes with proper recognition of service and benefits for his family.
"These officers need to be recognized for the horrors they have seen and protected us from," she wrote. "Their families should receive the same support and assistance as every other fallen officer's family. Instead, we have been stigmatized, had our health insurance taken, denied even the courtesy of an official burial."
At least four police officers who defended the Capitol on January 6 later died by suicide.
The full interview with Erin Smith will air Sunday night on NBC at 6:30 pm ET.
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