Internal Probe Clears of Wrongdoing US Capitol Police Officer Who Shot Ashli Babbitt on January 6
In the aftermath of the January 6 storming of the US Capitol by supporters of then-US President Donald Trump, the US Capitol Police investigated 35 officers’ actions and disciplined six. Video from the event showed several instances of fraternization and even aiding the rioters entry and navigation of the legislature.
The US Capitol Police (USCP) Office of Professional Responsibility announced Monday that an officer who shot a woman outside the House chamber during the January 6 insurrection would face no internal discipline for the incident.
The Monday statement says the review found the officer’s action “lawful and within Department policy,” noting those policies state that “an officer may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.”
“The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members [of Congress] and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the US Capitol and to the House Chamber where Members and staff were steps away. USCP Officers had barricaded the Speaker’s Lobby with furniture before a rioter shattered the glass door. If the doors were breached, the rioters would have immediate access to the House Chambers.”
The US Department of Justice had previously cleared the officer of criminal wrongdoing in April, claiming prosecutors would be unable to prove the officer had acted “willfully” to violate the law or had deprived Babbitt of a constitutionally protected right.
© REUTERS / U.S. SenateAshli Babbitt, a supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump, walks through the U.S. Capitol towards the House Chamber shortly before being shot and killed on January 6 in a still photo from U.S. Capitol Security footage that was introduced as evidence by House impeachment managers during the impeachment trial of former President Trump on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2021.
Ashli Babbitt, a supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump, walks through the U.S. Capitol towards the House Chamber shortly before being shot and killed on January 6 in a still photo from U.S. Capitol Security footage that was introduced as evidence by House impeachment managers during the impeachment trial of former President Trump on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2021.
© REUTERS / U.S. Senate
Ashli Babitt, a 35-year-old retired Air Force veteran from California, was part of the mob that broke into the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, shortly after a “Stop the Steal” rally hosted by then-US President Donald Trump outside the White House. While Trump was later acquitted in an impeachment trial of having encouraged his followers to storm the Capitol, the message at the rally was nonetheless one calling for a stop to Congress’ certification of the results of the November 2021 election, which was then underway. Trump claimed he hadn’t lost the election, as Democratic candidate Joe Biden had only won due to fraud.
Four others in addition to Babbit, were also killed during the attack on the Capitol, including a USCP officer. Although the entry of hundreds of rioters into the Capitol temporarily dispersed Congress and sent lawmakers scrambling to safety, the riot ultimately failed at its goal, and the building was soon cleared and the election results certified. More than 20,000 US troops then garrisoned Washington, DC, through Biden’s inauguration several weeks later, with the last national guardsmen only leaving in late May.
While she died a strong Trump supporter, Babbitt had been a Democrat before the real estate mogul took office in 2017, when she became a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, which holds that Trump is locked in battle with a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophile Democrats who he will one day vanquish.
When she was shot inside the Capitol on January 6, she was among a group of rioters who were attempting to bash their way through the shatter-resistant glass on the barricaded doors outside the House chamber. Videos captured by several of the rioters show several USCP officers on the other side of the doors, one of whom is mostly hidden from view but whose pistol can be plainly seen.
While some of the rioters notice the gun and can be heard calling out to others about the weapon, Babbitt was seemingly undeterred, and when she was shot in the shoulder she was attempting to climb through a busted-out window. The single gunshot brought pause to the dozens of rioters outside, and they rushed to take care of the wounded Babbit. When she arrived at the hospital, she was declared dead.
“His bravery on January 6 was nothing short of heroic,” Mark E. Schamel, the attorney representing the officer in question, said of his client in an April statement to the Washington Post. “He stopped the rioters from gaining entry into the Speaker’s Lobby and saved the lives of countless members of Congress and the rioters. His heroism should be no surprise to those who know him.”
Her husband, Aarton Babbitt, sued the DC Metropolitan Police Department in June in an attempt to get information about the officer who shot Ashli, including the officer’s name. Trump has made the demand for answers part of his rallying cries at public appearances since the failed insurrection.
"Who shot Ashli Babbitt? Why are they keeping that secret?" Trump asked during a July interview on Fox News Channel’s Maria Bartiromo. "Who was the person that shot an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman, a military woman? Right in the head, and there’s no repercussions. If that were on the other side, it would be the biggest story in this country.”
“They’re protecting that person,” Trump continued. “I've heard also that it was the head of security for a certain high official - a Democrat - so we’ll see, because it's gonna come out."