No criminal charges will be pursued against a U.S. Capitol police officer who shot and killed a San Diego woman during the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
The announcement was made following an investigation conducted by the DOJ and Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division into the Jan. 6 shooting of 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt.
The investigation included a review of video footage posted on social media, statements from the officer who fired the shot and others, physical evidence from the scene of the shooting and autopsy results.
“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” according to a DOJ statement, which noted that Babbitt’s family was informed Wednesday of the decision.
Video footage from the Jan. 6 raid showed Babbitt, a 14-year Air Force veteran, was shot by a Capitol police officer while climbing through the busted-out window of a door to the Speaker’s Lobby.
Officers barricaded the doorway with furniture to stop the crowd from entering the Speaker’s Lobby and the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to the Department of Justice, the investigation looked into whether the officer used force that was constitutionally unreasonable.
“Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber,” according to the DOJ statement.
“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.”
Babbitt was one of five people who died during the insurrection, including a police officer.
The day before chaos descended on the Capitol, Babbitt retweeted a video from the page Right Side Broadcasting Network of a rally in Freedom Plaza supporting former President Donald Trump, which made mention of “big protests” happening the next day.
Her final Twitter post, made Jan. 6, 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!”
Babbitt was an ardent supporter of former Republican President Trump who endorsed his false claims that the election was stolen.
She was among a large mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, in a failed bid to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory and one of five people to die that day.
Her shooting was captured on video and posted widely on social media. In it, she can be seen climbing through a doorway with a smashed window, when a Capitol Police officer on the other side fires his gun.
Prosecutors have filed charges so far against more than 400 defendants in the Capitol riots, with some facing allegations they conspired to storm the building in advance.
The focus of the investigation into Babbitt’s death, however, entailed whether the officer had deprived her of her constitutional Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to an unreasonable seizure.
To prove such a case in court, the department would have needed to show not only that the officer used constitutionally unreasonable force, but that he did so “willfully.”
Updated at 3:01 p.m. April 14, 2021
Reuters contributed to this report.