WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors will not charge a police officer who shot and killed a woman as she climbed through the broken part of a door during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
Authorities had considered for months whether criminal charges were appropriate for the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from San Diego. The department’s decision, though expected, officially closes out the investigation.
Prosecutors said they had reviewed video of the shooting, along with statements from the officer involved and other officers and witnesses, examined physical evidence from the scene and reviewed the autopsy results.
“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” the department said in a statement.
Video clips posted online depict Babbitt, wearing a stars and stripes backpack, stepping up and beginning to go through the waist-high opening of an area of the Capitol known as the Speaker’s Lobby when a gunshot is heard. She falls backward. Another video shows other unidentified people attempting to lift Babbitt up. She can be seen slumping back to the ground.
Mark Schamel, a lawyer for the officer, a lieutenant whose name was not released by the Justice Department, said that the decision to not bring charges was “the only correct conclusion” and that his client had “saved the lives of countless members of Congress and the rioters.”
Prosecutors said Babbitt was part of the mob that was trying to get into the House as Capitol Police officers were evacuating members of Congress from the chamber. The officers used furniture to try to barricade the glass doors separating the hallway from the Speaker’s Lobby to try to stave off the rioters, who kept trying to break through those doors, smashing the glass with flagpoles, helmets and other objects.
At the same time, Babbitt tried climbing through one of the doors where the glass was broken out. A Capitol Police officer inside the Speaker's Lobby then fired a single round from his service weapon, striking Babbitt in the shoulder, prosecutors said.