05.02.2023

Investigators recommend Capitol officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt should not be charged

An officer fired at the 35-year-old Air Force veteran from California as a mob clustered around the doors to the House of Representatives chambers during a riot inside the halls of Congress.

Before her death, Ms Babbitt on Twitter had referenced QAnon conspiracy theories and baseless claims of election fraud. Her last message before she was killed said: “Nothing will stop us … they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours … dark to light!”

The civil rights division of the US Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia has opened a probe into the shooting.

The officer was placed on administrative leave and their police powers have been suspended pending the outcome of a joint Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department investigation.

At least eight people who were at the Capitol on 6 January have died, including Ms Babbitt, two officers who died by suicide in the wake of the riot, a Capitol police officer who died from injuries from rioters, as well as three rioters who died from medical emergencies, and a man who died by suicide following his arrest for his role in the riots.

Capitol Police union chairman Gus Papathanasiou said nearly 140 officers from Capitol Police and Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department were injured.

Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick – who died after he was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher by a mob supporting former president Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud – will lie in honour inside the Capitol building’s rotunda this week.

Several videos from the scene where Ms Babbitt was killed show a crowd smashing glass on the door to the House chambers.

Capitol Police officers had drawn their weapons from the other side of the door, where members of Congress and others sheltered under chairs.

Ms Babbitt can be seen falling from a window from the other side of the double doors.

The officer, reportedly a lieutenant, “was essentially serving as a potential last line of defense between the rioters and members of Congress, thus providing some justification” for the shooting, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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