Officer who shot Ashli Babbitt at U.S. Capitol will not face charges

Officer who shot Ashli Babbitt at U.S. Capitol will not face charges
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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The Capitol police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt at the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has been cleared of any wrongdoing, and will not face criminal charges. The Department of Justice closed its investigation into Babbitt’s shooting on Wednesday. 

Unlike in many other cases, the Justice Department did not disclose the identity of the police officer, and questions about the case remain unanswered.

In a press release from the Justice Department, the department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said that they “will not pursue criminal charges against the officer responsible for shooting Babbitt,” who was inside the Capitol building during the riot. 

The investigation thought to establish whether the officer willfully deprived Babbitt of her constitutional or lawful rights, but prosecutors determined that there was no evidence that the officer willfully violated the law. 

The press release stated:

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 that beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully violated the law when he fired a single shot at Babbitt. 

The investigation found that the officer reasonably believed it was necessary to do so in self-defence, or in the defence of the members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber. 

“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 statement read.

Babbitt was one of several people who died at the Jan. 6 riot, but the only one present at the event to die from a gunshot wound. Babbitt was an Air Force veteran and supporter of former President Donald Trump, who expressed support of now-disgraced attorney Lin Wood’s rantings and ravings on social media.

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