WASHINGTON – Investigators have made an initial determination that no crime should be committed in relation to her death, according to people familiar with the review on the police officer who shot and killed Ashlee Babbitt during the US Capitol riot.
Ms. Babbitt, who served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for more than a dozen years and became a passionate supporter of former President Donald Trump, was shot by a Capitol police officer after rioters broke through a door to the speaker’s lobby On 6 January. She entered the building as part of a mob aimed at disrupting the certification of President Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
The officer who shot her was placed on leave immediately after the riots while Ms. Babbitt’s death was being investigated, including the question of whether it was a violation of her civil rights.
The Department of Justice announced the investigation, saying that whenever a police officer investigates the shooting of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, it follows a regular process. Police investigators have made a preliminary determination that the charges against the officer have not been warranted, with people saying Justice Department officials are yet to make a final determination on the case. The US Attorney’s Office in Washington is leading a wide-ranging investigation into the riots and is prosecuting more than 150 cases that have occurred so far.
A Department of Justice spokesman did not immediately comment. The decision of any final charge will have to be approved by the leadership of the Senior Justice Department, who have not yet been briefed on the matter.
In evaluating such cases, federal prosecutors must establish not only that an officer used excessive force but also that the officer would violate someone’s constitutional rights. This high bar makes federal charges against an officer difficult, and legal experts predicted that no such case was likely in connection with Ms. Babbitt’s death.
A spokesman for the Capitol Police declined to comment on what he called “an ongoing investigation”. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “It would be premature to comment at this time.”
The death of 35-year-old Ms. Bebbitt, a San Diego resident, gathered at the door of the speaker lobby in the Capitol Building as a mob of rioters hit the glass and urged officers to withdraw. According to several videos of the incident.
According to the video footage, the crowd beat the glass with a helmet and stick. Seconds later, Ms. Babbitt, who was unarmed, attempted to jump through the broken glass and was shot by a Capitol police officer from inside the door, according to the footage.
Several videos of the shooting, posted on social media, showed Ms. Babbitt, posing as a cape wearing a Trump flag, after an officer shot at a set of double doors The broken is falling from the window.
The officer, a lieutenant, was essentially acting as a last line of defense between rioters and members of Congress, thus providing some justification for his actions and for violating the rights of a civil officer The police officer falls short of the standard required to charge for a shooting, people said.
A Capitol Police official said, “Where he laid the line in the sand,” the lieutenant, whose police powers have been suspended, is expected to return to his previous position, although he retaliates against Trump Is afraid of. ” Supporters.
Capital Riot: Aftermath
“He should be cleared without question,” said Mark Scammell of the law firm Loewenstein Sandler, an attorney for the officer. He said, “There is no way to look at the evidence and think he is anything but a hero.” ”
Rep. Markwane Mullin (R., Okla.), Who witnessed the shooting, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last month that he saw the Capitol Police lieutenant in a defensive position in front of the doors to the house lobby.
The GOP Congress said it was worried because there were still MPs and was trapped inside the third floor balcony inside the press room, and looked at the floor.
“I think they wanted to hurt us,” he said of the crowd beating at the door. “My thought was, ‘How do we handle this?”
Then, Mr. Mullin said, a gunshot fired.
“Of course, then everyone got really excited again,” he said, “but I’ll tell you, from my point of view, the lieutenant did that, I really think he saved some people’s lives that day.”
The officer approached him, distraught, Mr. Mullin said. He said that he hugged the officer and told him, “Listen, you did what you had to do.”
In the video, several police officers appear to be providing first aid to Ms. Bebbitt, who was rushed to the hospital and later died.
The controversy is likely to escalate from the recommendation not to charge the officer who shot Ms. Bubbitt. Some far-right activists have used his death as a cry for the rally and referred to him as a martyr for his cause, his image appearing on the flag of protest and associated with the far-right group The Proud Boys in a Telegram account call them “casualties”. Of system aggression. “
The Justice Department has refused to charge the authorities in a number of other high-profile cases that have developed under different circumstances. This led to the former Ferguson, Mo. Decided not to file federal civil rights charges against the police officer, who shot an unarmed black teen in 2014, saying that prosecutors could not dismiss the claims of the officer for his safety Was apprehensive for This led to widespread protests and a national conversation about the use of police force.
In a social-media profile named after her, Ms. Bebbitt is described as a veteran and liberator who loved her husband, her big black-and-white dog “and above all, my country.” Ms. Babbitt’s military service included several deployments to Iraq during the war.
The day before the riots, Ms. Bebbitt tweeted: “Nothing will stop us … They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it’s DC in less than 24 hours Descending on … from darkness to light! “
A man who identified himself as Ms. Babbitt’s brother, reached by phone, did not immediately comment.
-Lindsey Wise contributed to this article.
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