The U.S. Capitol Police officer who killed demonstrator Ashli Babbitt at the Capitol on January 6 will not face any charges after President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice closed the investigation into the fatal shooting Wednesday.
According to press release from the department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice “will not pursue criminal charges” against the officer responsible for the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Babbitt.
The investigation sought to establish whether the officer willfully deprived Ms. Babbitt of any Constitutional or other lawful rights, but prosecutors determined there was no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully violated the law.
“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,” the department’s statement explained.
The Justice Department also found that the unnamed officer who filed a single shot at Babbitt did so “in self-defense or in defense 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.
Ms. Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and supporter of President Donald Trump, was shot to death when demonstrators and Capitol law enforcement came face-to-face in a hallway near the Speaker’s Lobby.
During the scuffle, the 35-year-old attempted to jump through a window when the Capitol Police officer opened fire, striking her once in the shoulder. She was transported to a hospital where she died.
Christopher Grider, who was near Babbitt when she was shot, said the mob of demonstrators were shocked by the officer’s actions.
“They were shocked as everyone else was when the people on the other side of the door, from 20 feet away, shot her in the chest,” he said. “At that point we were all panicked, we couldn’t leave because there were thousands of people behind us pushing us forward.”