Federal prosecutors will not charge a U.S. Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt when she was entering the Capitol on January 6 through a broken door.
Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, was unarmed.
Another Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died the day after he confronted protesters on January 6, but the exact cause of death has not been made public.
The Associated Press (AP) reported on the development:
The Justice Department’s decision, though expected, officially closes out the investigation. Prosecutors said they had reviewed video of the shooting, along with statements from the officer involved and other officers and witnesses, examined physical evidence from the scene and reviewed the autopsy results.
“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” the department said in a statement.
Video clips posted online depict Babbitt, wearing a stars and stripes backpack, stepping up and beginning to go through the waist-high opening of an area of the Capitol known as the Speaker’s Lobby when a gunshot is heard. She falls backward. Another video shows other unidentified people attempting to lift Babbitt up. She can be seen slumping back to the ground.
Mark Schamel, a lawyer for the officer, an unnamed lieutenant, said that the decision to not bring charges was “the only correct conclusion” and that his client, in fact, “saved the lives of countless members of Congress and the rioters.”
AP reported that Schamel said the officer fired only one shot and did so only after identifying himself and “ordering the mob not to come through the barricade.”
“He used tremendous restraint in only firing one shot, and his actions stopped the mob from breaking through and turning a horrific day in American history into something so much worse,” Schamel said.
“The Justice Department does not bring criminal charges in most police shootings it investigates in part because of the high burden for prosecution,” AP reported. “Criminal charges were not expected in this case because videos of the shooting show Babbitt encroaching into a prohibited space, and second-guessing the actions of an officer during the violent and chaotic day would have been a challenge.”
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