Washington, DC – Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they had no plans to charge the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) lieutenant who shot Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
Authorities 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,” the U.S. Department of Justice (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.
His attorney, Mark Schamel, 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.
Criminal charges weren’t expected to be brought against the officer who shot her from the very beginning because videos clearly showed Babbitt attempting to enter the prohibited space, the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors notified Babbitt’s family that the lieutenant would not face charges before they made the public announcement, The Washington Post reported.
Babbitt’s brother, Roger Witthoeft, wasn’t happy with the decision.
“In my eyes, everyone should stand before a jury to face justice,” Witthoeft said. “That decision shouldn’t be made behind the scenes. I think he should at least stand trial.”
“I love my sister and I’ll always remember her as a decent woman and patriot,” he added.