Prosecutors: No charges for officer in Capitol riot shooting

Lawrence Kim
April 15, 2021

The U.S. Justice Department has closed its investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt, a participant in a January 6 riot shot by U.S. Capitol Police, saying there was no evidence to prove the officer who shot her had violated her civil rights.

"Officials 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 Justice Department said.

The decision follows what the department is calling a "thorough investigation of Ms. Babbitt's shooting".

The Justice Department said it has cleared the officer involved and has closed its investigation, saying there is "insufficient evidence" to support prosecution.

Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from San Diego, had participated in the protest of the 2020 presidential election results that turned violent when a mob of individuals invaded the Capitol. She was the only person killed by police among the thousands of rioters who breached the building or amassed on the Capitol grounds.

"In order to establish a violation of this statute, prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer acted willfully to deprive Ms. Babbitt of a right protected by the Constitution or other law, here the Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to an unreasonable seizure", a DOJ statement read. The officers used furniture to try to barricade the glass doors separating the hallway from the Speaker's Lobby to try to stave off the rioters, who kept trying to break through those doors, smashing the glass with flagpoles, helmets and other objects. A Capitol Police officer inside the Speaker's Lobby then fired a single round from his service weapon, striking Babbitt in the shoulder, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Capitol Police officer killed when a motorist rammed a vehicle into two police officers and brandished a knife early this month will lie in honor in the Capitol rotunda on Tuesday.

The federal probe focused on constitutional issues that would be hard to prove in court, like whether the officer "willfully" used force against Babbitt that violated her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizures. She falls backward. Another video shows other unidentified people attempting to lift Babbitt up.

According to a news release, the US attorney's Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section and the Metropolitan Police Department's Internal Affairs Division "conducted a thorough investigation of Babbitt's shooting".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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