Law & the Courts

Ashli Babbitt’s Family Files Suit to Reveal Identity of Officer Who Shot Her

A memorial for Ashli Babbitt near the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., January 8, 2021 (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

Ashli Babbitt’s family is reportedly suing to reveal the identity of the Capitol police officer who fatally shot her as she attempted to enter the Speaker’s Lobby outside of the House chamber during the January 6 Capitol riot.

The suit comes after the Justice Department announced in April that the officer who shot Babbitt had been cleared of criminal wrongdoing and would not face charges.

Authorities found there was insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of the unnamed officer.  The investigation concluded that it was reasonable for the officer to believe he was firing in self-defense or in defense of members of Congress and aides who were fleeing the House chamber.

“The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation” of Babbitt’s rights against excessive force. 

The lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., last week also requests further video of the shooting, statements made by witnesses and other information gathered during the MPD’s investigation, according to CNBC. 

The suit claims the police department has not complied with a Freedom of Information Act request deadline filed by Babbitt’s husband, Aaron Babbitt. He reportedly filed the request days after the DOJ announced it would not charge the officer involved. 

The claim says the MPD did not release the requested information or explain that it could not.

Babbitt’s family also plans to sue the Capitol police for $10 million, accusing the officer of using excessive force and the department of “possibly failure to train, discipline and supervise the officer who killed Babbitt.” 

Cellphone videos of the January 6 siege show 35-year-old Babbitt and other rioters forcing their way inside the Capitol to barricaded doors leading to the Speaker’s Lobby — the hallway outside the House chamber where a number of lawmakers were sheltering during the riots. The group attempted to take down the doors with a helmet, their feet, and a flagpole. A Capitol Police officer is seen on video standing in a doorway on the far side of the doors with his gun drawn.

The officer shot Babbitt in the shoulder as she tried to crawl through one of the broken panes of the doors, video shows. Officers, rioters and a Hill staffer rushed to assist her. Babbitt was unarmed, according to the Washington Post.

Babbitt, a California native, was one of five people who died during the events at the Capitol, including Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick.

Hundreds of rioters have been arrested since the siege. 

A bipartisan Senate report released Tuesday suggested that the Capitol police intelligence unit was aware of reports, gleaned from social media, that Trump supporters were planning to storm the Capitol after the so-called “Stop the Steal” rally, but did not make the broader department aware of the scale of the threat.

The report also suggested that Pentagon officials were hesitant to deploy the National Guard as the capitol was being overrun due to fears that the response would contribute to the complaints about “overmilitarization” that began after Black Lives Matter demonstrators were driven out of Lafayette Square in front of the White House over the summer.

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