Capitol Officer Won't Be Charged in Babbitt's Death

Prosecutors say he could reasonably have thought he shot in self-defense on Jan. 6
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2021 4:28 PM CDT
Capitol Officer Cleared in Riot Death
This driver's license photo from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration shows Ashli Babbitt, who was shot to death during the Capitol riot.   (Maryland MVA/Courtesy of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they won't charge the Capitol Police officer who killed Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran shot during the Jan. 6 riot. Widely circulated videos showed that the officer fired as Babbitt, 35, tried to climb through an opening in the broken glass of a door inside the building as the mob moved toward the House chamber. She died at a hospital. Prosecutors concluded that the officer could reasonably have thought he was shooting in self-defense or in the defense of members of Congress and others rushing out of the House. A statement said there wasn't evidence to prove that Babbitt's civil rights were violated, the Washington Post reports. Prosecutors let her family know of the decision Wednesday, "acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences," a statement said. Babbitt's family had no immediate comment on the decision.

The investigation of the officer, who was not identified, has been closed. He was put on leave after the shooting. A preliminary finding described the officer as a last line of defense between the mob and members of Congress and said he should not face charges, per the Wall Street Journal. Babbitt's family said she was an ardent supporter of former President Trump and went to the Capitol to protest the certification of President Biden's victory. She was wearing a Trump flag around her shoulders when she was shot. Some activists on the far right have portrayed Babbitt as a martyr, putting her image on flags and, in the case of the Proud Boys, referring to her as a "casualty of system aggression." Babbitt's death was one of five attributed to the attack on the Capitol. (Read more Ashli Babbitt stories.)

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