The U.S. Capitol police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt during the U.S. Capitol riots in January acted lawfully and in line with department policy, the U.S. Capitol Police announced Monday.
Cellphone videos of the January 6 siege show 35-year-old Babbitt and other rioters forcing their way inside the Capitol to barricaded doors leading to the Speaker’s Lobby — the hallway outside the House chamber where a number of lawmakers were sheltering during the riots. The group attempted to take down the doors with a helmet, their feet and a flagpole. A Capitol Police officer is seen on video standing in a doorway on the far side of the doors with his gun drawn.
The officer shot Babbitt in the shoulder as she tried to crawl through one of the broken panes of the doors, video shows. Officers, rioters and a Hill staffer rushed to assist her. Babbitt was unarmed, according to the Washington Post.
Capitol Police announced Monday that its office of professional responsibility found that the officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy and, therefore, the officer will not face internal disciplinary action.
Officers are directed to only use deadly force when they reasonably believe their actions will save their life or the life of another person who could be “in immediate danger of serious physical injury,” officials said.
The department’s determination comes months after the officer was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Department of Justice, which announced in April that the officer would not face charges.
At that time, authorities found there was insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of the unnamed officer. The investigation concluded that it was reasonable for the officer to believe he was firing in self-defense or in defense of members of Congress and aides who were fleeing the House chamber.
Babbitt, a California native, was one of five people who died during the events at the Capitol, including Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick.
Federal officials have arrested roughly 570 participants since the riot occurred. Dozens have been charged with assaulting a police officer.
However, the FBI has uncovered little evidence that the Capitol riot was organized beforehand, according to Reuters. Officials reportedly do not believe that far-right groups and supporters of former President Trump coordinated the riot.
“Ninety to ninety-five percent of these are one-off cases,” a former senior law-enforcement official reportedly told Reuters. “Then you have five percent, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages.”
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