WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol Police completed its internal investigation into the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, finding the officer's actions to be "lawful and within Department policy." Though USCP will not be naming the officer, for the officer's protection, they announced Monday the officer would not face internal discipline.
"This officer and the officer’s family have been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats for actions that were taken as part of the job of all our officers: defending the Congress, Members, staff and the democratic process," USCP said in its statement. "The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death ... The officer’s actions were consistent with the officer’s training and USCP policies and procedures."
Mark E. Schamel, the attorney representing the unnamed USCP lieutenant, issued a statement on behalf of his newly exonerated client late Monday, which reads in part:
"As shown by the extensive video footage and witness accounts of this violent riot, this was an absolutely justified use of force, and the nation owes the lieutenant a tremendous debt of gratitude. His willingness to remain steadfast in the face of hundreds of violent, extremist, would-be insurrectionists intent on thwarting Congress from performing its Constitutional duty was the type of heroism and commitment that the Lieutenant has demonstrated in his almost three decades of law enforcement service."
On Friday, before USCP released its statement, the attorney representing Babbitt's family challenged the Capitol Police to "release detailing findings of its investigation."
"It’s not enough to say that an officer did nothing wrong or acted in accordance with departmental policy if it cannot demonstrate how it reached such a conclusion," Terrell Roberts III said. "I say release the findings to the public so we can determine for ourselves if the investigation was adequate. I predict that will not happen. A one-sided inquiry behind closed doors proves nothing, and it is not an 'exoneration.'"
Babbitt was a 35-year-old veteran of the Air Force. After serving four deployments overseas, Babbitt eventually moved to California with her husband, Aaron. There they owned a pool business together.
An avid supporter of former President Donald Trump, Babbitt flew alone to D.C. on Jan. 5 to participate in his “Stop the Steal” rally the following day. When hundreds of rioters pushed past police lines and entered the U.S. Capitol Building, she entered with them. Video captured by an activist named John Sullivan, who streamed under the name “Jayden X,” shows Babbitt at the front of a crowd of rioters using poles and other objects to attempt to break open a barricaded set of doors leading to the Speaker’s Lobby – a short distance behind which members of Congress were sheltering. The video shows Babbitt was the first rioter to try to climb through a broken window, at which point a Capitol Police officer behind the barricaded doors fired a single shot. The bullet struck her in her left shoulder, according to a report from the D.C. Medical Examiner's Office. She died a short time later at Washington Hospital Center.
Babbitt’s shooting has become a cause célèbre for Fox News host Tucker Carlson and most recently for Trump himself. On July 1, Trump made a one-sentence post to his blog asking, “Who shot Ashli Babbitt?” Since then, Trump has spoken of her repeatedly, including sharing discredited conspiracy theories about the officer who shot her being head of security for a high-ranking Democrat. Capitol Police have said the officer was not assigned to a private security detail for any member of Congress on January 6.
In April, an investigation by the Justice Department found no grounds on which to charge the officer for Babbitt’s shooting, but that hasn’t satisfied her husband – who is currently suing to learn the officer’s name.
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