Investigators said this week the officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 violence on Capitol Hill should not face any charges linked to her death, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to Wall Street Journal.
Babbitt, an Air Force and Air National Guard veteran, died after she was shot by a Capitol Police officer during the protest that rocked Capitol Hill. She had entered the federal building with a crowd of protesters seeking to interrupt Joe Biden’s certification as president-elect.
The officer responsible for her death was placed on leave not long after the chaos while the Washington Metropolitan Police Department conducted a routine investigation into the officer’s use of deadly force.
While the Justice Department has not made a final decision, initial determinations found that charges against the officer are not justified.
According to the Wall Street Journal, investigations into cases like Babbitt’s require federal prosecutors to establish that the officer deliberately violated an individual’s constitutional rights through his use of excessive force.
Capitol Police did not provide a comment on what was called “an ongoing investigation,” and a Metropolitan Police spokesman said, “It would be premature to provide a comment at this time.”
Babbitt’s shooting was caught on video that circulated on social media following the incident, revealing a crowd of people pushing their way into the Capitol building in the moments leading up to Babbitt’s death.
The Journal reported that the officer was the last line of defense between the mob of protesters and members of Congress,
“That’s where he drew the line in the sand,” a fellow Capitol Police officer said.
Mark Schamel, a lawyer for the officer, said he should be cleared “without question,” adding, “There’s no way to look at the evidence and think he’s anything but a hero.”
GOP Representative Markwayne Mullin from Oklahoma, who was present at the time of the shooting, told the news outlet that the officer took a defensive position outside of the House lobby’s doors.
“I believe they were wanting to hurt us,” he said, referring to the protesters. “My thought was, ‘How are we going to handle this one?’”
After hearing the gunshot, Mullin said, “Of course then everybody got really excited again, but I’ll tell you, from my perspective, the lieutenant that did that, I truly feel that he saved some people’s lives that day.”
Mullin said the officer was distraught after the shooting, at which point the Congressman said, “Listen, you did what you had to do.”