The family of the woman shot dead inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 is considering filing a lawsuit against the officer who shot her.
The lawsuit would allege constitutional violations, Terrell Roberts, a lawyer for Ashli Babbitt’s family, told The Epoch Times, including excessive use of force.
“That will be filed against the officer, the Capitol Police,” he said, pending the outcome of the investigation into the shooting.
Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was shot as she attempted to climb through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby, which is adjacent to the House chamber in the Capitol. It was the only shooting during the breach.
The U.S. Capitol Police has confirmed that the person who shot Babbitt is a sworn officer.
The Metropolitan Police Department is leading the investigation, with help from the federal agency and the Department of Justice.
The officer hasn’t been identified by officials or in news reports. He is reportedly in hiding out of fear for his safety.
Lawyers for Babbitt’s family say the shooting wasn’t justified. In a written statement, Roberts said that universal law enforcement standard outlines how officers should use no more force than necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose.
Noting that Babbitt was just 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 110 pounds, he argued that an arrest could have easily been accomplished by a single officer with a set of handcuffs.
“However, the officer who shot Ashli never attempted to arrest her. Nor did he call on his fellow officers to arrest her. Instead, he fired a shot into her chest,” Roberts said.
“Witnesses confirm that the officer did not give Ashli a single verbal warning prior to firing. In fact, Ashli was not even aware that the officer was present, as he was located in the doorway of a room off to the side of her field of vision.”
An investigator with the law firm told The Epoch Times that a team has spent weeks collecting open-source videos and photographs as part of the effort to reconstruct what happened in the moments leading up to the shooting. Roberts said the firm has successfully identified multiple witnesses and spoken to them.
Because agencies involved in the probe are releasing little information, the firm is conducting its own investigation.
Mark Schamel, an attorney for the officer, told RealClearInvestigations that the officer did issue several warnings.
The words couldn’t be heard on video because of the noise being made by others in the area, he alleged.
“He was acting within his training,” Schamel said. “Lethal force is appropriate if the situation puts you or others in fear of imminent bodily harm.”
The Capitol Police said the shooting happened as protesters “were forcing their way toward the House Chamber where Members of Congress were sheltering in place.”
A Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email last month that there are no updates on the probe. “The case remains under investigation,” he said.