Law & the Courts

Capitol Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Ashli Babbitt Won’t Face Charges

Ashli Babbitt (Screenshot via Twitter/@Ashli_Babbitt)

The U.S. Capitol police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt during the U.S. Capitol riots in January has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing and will not face charges, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

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 office of acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips of Washington, D.C. said in a statement that prosecutors notified Congress and Babbitt’s family of its findings on Wednesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Department of Justice have closed the investigation, “acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences” to Babbitt’s family, the statement says.

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.

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