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Federal prosecutors will not charge Capitol officer who shot Ashli Babbitt, citing self-defense

Chuck Ross, DCNF

Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday they will not seek charges against a Capitol police officer who fatally shot Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt as she attempted to enter a restricted area of the Capitol along with a group of protesters on Jan. 6.

The officer, who has not been identified, acted in self-defense and in defense of members of Congress when he fired a single fatal shot at Babbitt, according to a statement released by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C.

“The investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber,” reads a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office, which conducted the investigation along with the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

Video recorded of the shooting showed that Babbitt, an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, attempted to crawl through a barricaded section of the Capitol outside the Speaker’s lobby.

A police officer is seen in the video footage emerging from a room, pointing a gun, and firing one shot. Babbitt, who served in the Air Force for 15 years, is seen falling back into a crowd of fellow protesters.

“As members of the mob continued to strike the glass doors, Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out,” reads the statement from prosecutors.

“An officer inside the Speaker’s Lobby fired one round from his service pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, causing her to fall back from the doorway and onto the floor.”

Investigators examined video footage posted on social media and statements from witnesses, other Capitol officers and the officer who shot Babbitt, according to the statement.

“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.”

Prosecutors did not say whether the officer issued any verbal commands to Babbitt before opening fire.

U.S. officials informed Babbitt’s family of the decision on Wednesday, according to the statement.

“Acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences to Ms. Babbitt’s family, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Department of Justice have therefore closed the investigation into this matter,” the statement says.

Four other people, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, died during the Capitol riots. Three other Trump supporters, who were protesting the vote to certify the election in favor of President Joe Biden, died from unspecified medical complications.

Sicknick was initially thought to have died after being attacked with a fire extinguisher, but prosecutors have said that an investigation into his death is still ongoing. Two men who took part in the riot were charged last month with dispensing bear spray that hit Sicknick and several other officers.

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