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Capitol Officer Won't Be Charged in Fatal Ashli Babbitt Shooting

Capitol Officer Won't Be Charged in Fatal Ashli Babbitt Shooting
A makeshift monument for Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and died next day after U.S. Capitol was stormed (Yuri Gripas/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 14 April 2021 02:01 PM

The Justice Department has closed its investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt, 35, and will not charge the officer who shot her, saying there was no evidence to prove the officer violated her civil rights.

Officials determined there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of the officer who shot Babbitt during the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the official statement.

Officials examined video footage posted on social media, statements from the officer involved, other officers and witnesses to the events, physical evidence from the scene of the shooting, and the results of an autopsy.

Officials from Metropolitan Police Department's Internal Affairs Division informed a representative of Babbitt's family Wednesday, "acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences."

"The focus of the criminal investigation was to determine whether federal prosecutors could prove that the officer violated any federal laws, concentrating on the possible application of 18 U.S.C. § 242, a federal criminal civil rights statute," the DOJ statement read. "In order to establish a violation of this statute, prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer acted willfully to deprive Ms. Babbitt of a right protected by the Constitution or other law, here the Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to an unreasonable seizure.

"Prosecutors would have to prove not only that the officer used force that was constitutionally unreasonable, but that the officer did so 'willfully,' which the Supreme Court has interpreted to mean that the officer acted with a bad purpose to disregard the law. As this requirement has been interpreted by the courts, evidence that an officer acted out of fear, mistake, panic, misperception, negligence, or even poor judgment cannot establish the high level of intent required under Section 242.

"The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242. 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 investigation gave this detail of the events of Babbitt's death.

"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," the statement read. "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. 

"A [U.S. Capitol Police] emergency response team, which had begun making its way into the hallway to try and subdue the mob, administered aid to Ms. Babbitt, who was transported to Washington Hospital Center, where she succumbed to her injuries."

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The Justice Department has closed its investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt, 35, and will not charge the officer who shot her, saying there was no evidence to prove the officer violated her civil rights.
ashli babbitt, shooting, capitol police, civil rights, justice, department, investigation
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2021-01-14
Wednesday, 14 April 2021 02:01 PM
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