The shooting of Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol riot was "lawful," and the Capitol Police officer involved will not face any internal disciplinary actions, the Capitol Police announced Monday, arguing his actions might have “saved” members of Congress “from serious injury and possible death.”
A video shows the 35-year-old Air Force veteran and Trump supporter attempting to climb through a broken doorway window into the Speaker's Lobby during the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, when she was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer who has not yet been publicly identified.
The Capitol Police’s Office of Professional Responsibility “determined the officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy, which says an officer may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.” Capitol Police said that he “will not be facing internal discipline.”
“The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House Chamber where Members and staff were steps away,” Capitol Police said on Monday. “USCP Officers had barricaded the Speaker’s Lobby with furniture before a rioter shattered the glass door. If the doors were breached, the rioters would have immediate access to the House Chambers. The officer’s actions were consistent with the officer’s training and USCP policies and procedures.”
The FBI has said that law enforcement officers began to move away from the doorway of the Speaker's Lobby after a crowd including Babbitt reached it. The crowd can be seen trying to bust out the glass in the entryway door windows.
"Who shot Ashli Babbitt?" has become a common refrain by Trump and others.
Attorney Terry Roberts, who is preparing to file a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Babbitt's family, said she was killed in an "ambush."
Roberts provided a lengthy statement to the Washington Examiner on Monday.
“I have seen nothing to confirm that an internal affairs investigation by the Capitol Police was done or has been completed,” Roberts said. “But, if true, I challenge the Capitol Police to release the detailed findings (if any) of its investigation. It’s not enough to say that an officer did nothing wrong if it cannot demonstrate how it reached that conclusion. I say release the findings to the public so we can determine for ourselves if the investigation was thorough, competent, and fair. It wasn’t.”
Roberts added: “I predict the Capitol Police will not release anything substantive about its investigation because it cannot pass muster in the light of day. A one-sided inquiry behind closed doors proves nothing, and it certainly is not an ‘exoneration.’ The world has already seen citizens’ videos of the shooting and has reached a different conclusion — one which is far from clearing the officer.”
Mark Schamel, the officer's lawyer, has defended his client's conduct.
"It’s a false narrative that he issued no verbal commands or warnings,” the officer's lawyer, Mark Schamel, previously told RealClearInvestigations. "He was screaming, 'Stay back! Stay back! Don’t come in here!'"
Schamel said his client's shouts could not be seen in video footage of the incident because his mouth was covered with a mask meant to stop the spread of COVID-19. He also noted the videos were taken on the other side of the doors, where the rioters were making a lot of noise, and he has witness statements to back that up.
“This decision by the USCP’s Office of Professional Responsibility to exonerate the Lieutenant, like the decisions of the Department of Justice and United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, is the only correct conclusion following the events of January 6th. Every piece of evidence that is released further validates the Lieutenant’s conduct,” Schamel told the Washington Examiner as part of a lengthy statement on Monday. “The Lieutenant exercised professionalism and restraint in heroically defending and protecting members of Congress and their staff during the violent insurrection on January 6th. As shown by the extensive video footage and witness accounts of this violent riot, this was an absolutely justified use of force, and the nation owes the lieutenant a tremendous debt of gratitude.”
Separate from the pending $10 million lawsuit against the police, Babbitt's family sued in June in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for access to video footage of the shooting, witness statements, and documents identifying the officer who fatally shot Babbitt.
Capitol Police said Monday the officer “is not being identified for the officer’s safety” and that “this officer and the officer’s family have been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats for actions that were taken as part of the job of all our officers: defending the Congress, Members, staff, and the democratic process.”
Capitol Police said that “after interviewing multiple witnesses and reviewing all the available evidence, including video and radio calls,” it had “completed the internal investigation” and noted that “the administrative investigation was launched after the criminal investigation was closed.”
The Justice Department announced in April that it would not pursue charges against the officer. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division “conducted a thorough investigation,” DOJ said, and after investigators “examined video footage posted on social media, statements from the officer involved and other officers and witnesses to the events, physical evidence from the scene of the shooting, and the results of an autopsy,” the investigators “determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.”
Earlier that month, Dr. Francisco Diaz, the chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia, determined that Babbitt’s death was caused by a “gunshot wound to the left anterior shoulder,” and her manner of death was ruled a “homicide.” Not all homicides are determined to be unjustified or to be murders.
Babbitt was the only person determined to have been killed during the Capitol riot. Two protesters suffered fatal heart attacks, and another died of a suspected drug overdose.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, died the day after responding to the riot. In the days that followed, news outlets reported the 13-year veteran was beaten with a fire extinguisher, but the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told the Washington Examiner in April that Sicknick’s death was "natural" and caused by two strokes. The medical examiner said Sicknick was sprayed with a chemical substance at about 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 6, collapsed at the Capitol at about 10 p.m., and was taken to a local hospital. He died at about 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7. Although Diaz told the Washington Post Sicknick suffered neither an allergic reaction to chemical irritants nor any injuries, he said that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.“
Biden and other Democratic officials have insisted that Sicknick was “killed” during the riot, despite the medical examiner’s conclusions.
The Justice Department announced in May that it had seized the roughly $90,000 that John Sullivan, a self-styled leftist activist disavowed by Black Lives Matter leaders, was paid by media outlets for footage he took during the storming of the Capitol in January. Video taken by him showed him encouraging Trump supporters from the entrance of the Capitol all the way to the moment when Babbitt was shot and killed.
Sullivan, the founder of Insurgence USA, was arrested in January. The DOJ argued that Sullivan "positioned himself with a front seat to not one, but multiple confrontations with officers at multiple locations, and made consistently gleeful exhortations about burning and breaking things."
In one video, Sullivan can be heard expressing excitement that he caught the shooting of Babbitt on video, saying, "Everybody’s gonna want this. Nobody has it. I’m selling it. I could make millions of dollars."
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Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy