The officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6 will not face discipline for “defending the Congress,” and the person’s identity will be kept private in light of “numerous credible and specific threats” against that individual, the U.S. Capitol Police announced on Monday.
“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,” the Capitol Police wrote in a statement, announcing the results of an investigation that examined video, radio calls, and other evidence.
Prosecutors say that Garret Miller, one of the men who stormed the Capitol with Babbitt, believed the officer who shot her was a Black man and threatened to lynch him.
“He became consumed with her death and circulated photographs on Facebook of an African-American police officer that he believed was responsible for her death,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth C. Kelley wrote in March. “Miller threatened to kill that officer, stating that he wanted to ‘hug his neck with a nice rope’ and that ‘he will swing.’ He also said that the officer deserved to die and that ‘it’s huntin season.’”
In their press release, the U.S. Capitol Police echoed the findings of the Department of Justice, which declined to charge the officer in April.
“Specifically, 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,” the Justice Department wrote at the time. “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 Babbitt family’s attorney Terrell N. Roberts, III claimed lethal force was “completely unnecessary.”
“Photographic and video evidence makes clear that there was ample police manpower present in the Speaker’s Lobby who were ready and able to stop or arrest Babbitt should she have managed to get past the barricade which awaited her in the Speaker’s Lobby,” Roberts wrote in a statement on the family’s Twitter account. “She would never have made it into the House Chamber, and the officer had no reason to believe otherwise.”
In June, Babbitt’s husband sued Washington, D.C., claiming police “failed” to identify the officer who shot her. That case remains pending.
Beyond merely clearing the unnamed officer, the U.S. Capitol Police commended that person.
“The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House Chamber where Members and staff were steps away,” the statement reads. “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 officer’s actions were consistent with the officer’s training and USCP policies and procedures.”
Pictured above wearing a QAnon T-shirt, Babbitt retweeted conspiracy theorist lawyer Lin Wood’s “MUST BE DONE” list ahead of Jan. 6, a list that included vice president Mike Pence resigning and being charged with treason. She reportedly believed Jan. 6 was the day of the “storm” predicted by QAnon adherents, where a child-eating cabal of Satan-worshipping Democratic pedophiles — supposedly in control of the U.S. government and the world — would be purged and former President Donald Trump’s enemies would be vanquished.
Update—Aug. 23 at 6:22 p.m. Eastern Time: This story has been updated to include comment from a lawyer for Babbitt’s family.
(images via Twitter)
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