Trump claims Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt was shot by a ‘lunatic’ for ‘no reason’

Donald Trump marked the two-year anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot by accusing a “lunatic” police officer of shooting protester Ashli Babbitt “for no reason” and reiterating his false claims about a stolen 2020 election.

On Saturday, Mr Trump gave a speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, as part of an event surrounding the conservative CPAC conference.

During his remarks, the former president referenced Babbitt, a right-wing demonstrator who was shot and killed by police during January 6 as she attempted to climb through a window into the Capitol, and the recent arrest of Babbitt’s mother at a January 6 commemoration in Washington.

“Ashli Babbitt’s mother was arrested yesterday because she was protesting the death of her daughter being shot by a lunatic,” Mr Trump said.

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“So she loses her daughter and then on top of it she gets arrested and we are not going to let this go on,” Mr Trump added. “These people are horrible, horrible people. What they’ve done to protesters. These are protesters. They were protesting a dishonest election.”

On Friday, Babbitt’s mother Micki Witthoeft, 58, was arrested when a group of protesters who did not have a permit to demonstrate on the Capitol grounds attempted to cross a street and enter the grounds.

Video shows officers telling Ms Witthoeft to move out of the street or be arrested, which she responds to by turning around and offering her hands to be handcuffed.

"The officers and officials told the group to get out of the road or the group would be arrested. The sidewalk was open. A woman in the group was given multiple warnings to get our of the road," according to a press release from the US Capitol Police. "Instead of getting out of the road, the woman refused to leave, turned around with her hands behind her back, and asked to be arrested."

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She was given a citation to appear in court and released later that day.

Since her death, Babbitt has become a martyr to the far-right.

Lt Michael Byrd, the officer who shot Babbitt, has defended the shooting, saying the decision “saved countless lives” because Babbitt was about to break into a part of the Capitol not far from legislators.

“I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger,” he said in 2021. “And that’s my job.”

In August of 2021, the Capitol Police concluded its review of the officer’s conduct and found the shooting of Babbitt was “consistent with the officer’s training and (U.S. Capitol Police) policies."