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Prosecutors: No charges against officer in shooting death of Ocean Beach woman at Capitol

This driver's license photo from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration shows Ashli Babbitt.
This driver’s license photo from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration shows Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer inside the U.S. Capitol building Jan. 6.
(Associated Press)

No criminal charges will be pursued against a U.S. Capitol Police officer who shot and killed an Ocean Beach woman during the January insurrection at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., the Department of Justice announced April 14.

The announcement was made following an investigation by the Justice Department and the Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division into the Jan. 6 shooting of Ashli Babbitt, 35.

The investigation included a review of video footage posted on social media, statements from the officer who fired the shot and others, plus physical evidence from the scene and autopsy results.

“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” according to a DOJ statement, which noted that Babbitt’s family was informed of the decision.

Ashli Babbitt, 35, was shot as she tried to enter the House chamber.

Video footage from Jan. 6 showed that Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was shot by a Capitol Police officer while climbing through the busted-out window of a door to the Speaker’s Lobby after she and a crowd of other protesters raided the Capitol trying to stop Congress from signing off on states’ electoral votes affirming Joe Biden’s victory over then-President Donald Trump in the November election.

Officers barricaded the doorway with furniture to stop the crowd from entering the Speaker’s Lobby and the chamber of the House of
Representatives.

The officer, who was inside the Speaker’s Lobby, fired a single round from his service weapon, striking Babbitt in a shoulder, prosecutors said.

Babbitt fell, and a police tactical team rushed to the area and gave first aid. Babbitt was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

According to the Justice Department, the investigation looked into whether the officer used force that was constitutionally unreasonable.

“Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the members of Congress and others evacuating the House chamber,” according to the DOJ statement. “Acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences to Ms. Babbitt’s family, the U.S. attorney’s office and U.S. Department of Justice have therefore closed the investigation into this matter.”

Mark Schamel, a lawyer for the officer, a lieutenant whose name was not released by the Justice Department, said the decision not to bring charges was “the only correct conclusion” and that his client had “saved the lives of countless members of Congress and the rioters.”

Schamel said the officer fired only after identifying himself and “ordering the mob not to come through the barricade.”

Babbitt’s husband, Aaron, told Fox 5 TV after the shooting that “she loved her country and she was doing what she thought was right to support her country, joining up with like-minded people that also love their president and their country. She was voicing her opinion and she got killed for it.”

Babbitt was one of five people who died during the insurrection, including a police officer.

The Justice Department does not bring criminal charges in most police shootings it investigates, in part because of the high burden for prosecution, and charges were not expected in this case because videos of the shooting show Babbitt encroaching into a prohibited space during the violent and chaotic day.

The day before the chaos descended on the Capitol, Babbitt retweeted a video from the page Right Side Broadcasting Network of a rally in Freedom Plaza supporting Trump, which made mention of “big protests” happening the next day.

In a Twitter post Jan. 5, she said, “Nothing will stop us ... they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC
in less than 24 hours ... dark to light!”

— The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.


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