A D.C. chiropractor with an office on Capitol Hill has been arrested and charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot — but not with assault on law enforcement, as the widow of a D.C. police officer has claimed in a lawsuit.
The criminal complaint says Walls-Kaufman “engaged in a scuffle with Law Enforcement Officers” inside the Capitol but says nothing about an assault outside the building, where Smith was hit with a heavy metal object.
During a brief appearance in court Thursday, Walls-Kaufman was released with an order to stay away from the U.S. Capitol. The next hearing in his case is set for June 28. He has not yet hired a criminal attorney; a public defender represented him at the hearing.
The civil suit, which is pending, says online sleuths identified Walls-Kaufman and another man as Smith’s attackers last year. The criminal complaint filed Thursday references those sleuths, though it does not mention Smith’s name.
According to the lawsuit, Walls-Kaufman hit Smith with the officer’s baton while Smith’s face was exposed and vulnerable. The initial lawsuit described the object used to assault Smith as a heavy cane or crowbar; it has recently been amended 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 suit by saying he “specifically denies assaulting Officer Smith.” The attorney did not return requests for comment on Walls-Kaufman’s arrest. 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 the court record for the lawsuit, he lost consciousness during the riot and suffered severe pain in its wake. A man with no past mental health issues now couldn’t focus or sleep, according to his attorney and wife; he killed himself the day he was due to return to work.
In March, the D.C. Police and Firefighters Retirement and Relief Board granted Smith’s wife a full pension, ruling his injury on Jan. 6 the “sole and direct cause of his death.” The ruling came after months of advocacy by Erin Smith and members of Congress.
David P. Weber, who represents Erin Smith, said the widow “thanks the Department of Justice for this initial first step.” Weber said Smith “awaits word” on whether charges will be filed against the second man identified in the civil suit, as well as a third man who has not been identified and is seen in pictures throwing metal pipes.
The attorney said Smith “understands and respects the complexity in charging decisions, and is hopeful that further charges will be announced.”
Weber said Smith intends to attend Thursday night’s House committee meeting on the Jan. 6 attack and is in discussion with congressional staff about testifying at a future hearing.
Devlin Barrett and Clarence Williams contributed to this report.