Washington, DC – The family of Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt has filed the first of two major lawsuits related to her shooting death by U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) on the day of the Capitol riot.
The civil lawsuit filed the first week of June in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia asked the court to force the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to turn over records of their investigation into Babbitt’s death, CNBC reported.
The lawsuit also called for MPD to reveal the identity of the Capitol police officer who shot Babbitt as she made her way through a window into the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.
The civil suit came on the heels of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) announcement that the officer who killed Babbitt would not be charged with any crime, CNBC reported.
Federal prosecutors said in April that they had no plans to charge the USCP lieutenant who shot Babbitt.
Authorities said they had investigated the officer-involved shooting during the breach of the U.S. Capitol building that left the 35-year-old veteran dead and determined the shooting was justified, the Associated Press reported.
Based on the findings of the investigation, prosecutors found there was insufficient evidence to prove that Babbitt’s civil rights had been violated by the USCP lieutenant, The Washington Post reported.
Prosecutors said it was reasonable for the Capitol Police lieutenant who shot Babbitt to believe he was firing in self-defense or in the defense of the Congressional lawmakers and their staffs who were trying to flee the building at that time, the Associated Press reported.
“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,” DOJ said in a statement on April 14, the Associated Press reported.
“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” the statement read.
Officials have not publicly identified the USCP lieutenant who shot Babbitt.
The lawsuit said the Babbitt’s husband, Aaron Babbitt, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the records of the investigation into his wife’s death with the DC police just days after the DOJ announcement, CNBC reported.
The complaint said that MPD had “failed to comply” with the FOIA request when it missed a May 12 deadline to either provide the requested materials to Aaron Babbitt or notify him that his request had been denied.
Terrell Roberts, an attorney for Babbitt’s family, said the goal of the lawsuit was to find out what the MPD investigation had uncovered and learn the name of the Capitol police officer who fatally shot Babbitt, CNBC reported.
Roberts said the family was also about to file a massive lawsuit against the Capitol police that would demand more than $10 million in recovery from the losses.
The attorney said that the second lawsuit did not hinge on the discovery from the initial investigation and could move forward unimpeded.
Roberts told CNBC that the new complaint would allege that USCP violated Babbitt’s constitutional right against the use of excessive force “and possibly failure to train, discipline and supervise the officer who killed Babbitt.”
Mark Schamel, an attorney for the unnamed lieutenant who shot Babbitt, said that the prosecutors’ decision was “the only correct conclusion” to the investigation, The Washington Post reported.
“His bravery on January 6 was nothing short of heroic,” Schamel said in a statement. “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.”
He said Babbitt had also ignored orders to stop from numerous other police officers and that she broke multiple laws in the moments before she was shot, The Washington Post reported.
Babbitt was featured in numerous social media posts with pictures and video on the day of the Capitol riot.
Video from inside the U.S. Capitol building showed Babbitt wearing a backpack with an American flag on it as she stepped through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby, the Associated Press reported.
A gunshot can be heard in the video and then Babbitt fell backwards.
Prosecutors said the Capitol Police lieutenant fired one shot that struck Babbitt in the shoulder, the Associated Press reported.
Schamel said his client had shown restraint in his use of force, warning the rioters first by “clearly identifying himself and ordering the mob not to come through the barricade.”
“He used tremendous restraint in only firing one shot, and his actions stopped the mob from breaking through and turning a horrific day in American history into something so much worse,” the lieutenant’s attorney said.
The videos of the shooting showed Babbitt slumped to the ground after she was shot.
Protesters surrounded her to try to lift her up and help her and then a police tactical team rushed in and took over performing First Aid, the Associated Press reported.
Babbitt was pronounced dead at the hospital.