The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is being sued by the family of Ashli Babbitt to learn the identity of the law enforcement officer who fatally shot her in Washington on Jan. 6.
In a seven-page document filed last week in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, relative Aaron Babbitt asked a judge to compel the MPD, Washington’s police force, to search for and hand over records he sought in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The records include video footage of the shooting of Ashli Babbitt inside the U.S. Capitol, documents that identify the officer who shot her, and police training records of said officer.
The plaintiff submitted the request on April 21 and the MPD acknowledged receipt on the same day, according to the lawsuit. But as of June 4, the department has failed to produce the requested records or demonstrate that it’s lawfully exempt from having to produce them.
Under Washington code, the MPD was required to do one or the other within 15 business days, or by May 12.
Alleging a FOIA violation, Aaron Babbitt is asking the court through his lawyer, Terrell Roberts, to order the MPD to conduct searches for all the records requested and order the defendants to produce by a certain date all nonexempt records, and asks the court to block the police agency from continuing to withhold the records.
The lawsuit should be merged with a similar action filed by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, the filing states.
An MPD spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an email that the department doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
The U.S. Capitol Police and the law firm representing the officer who shot Babbitt didn’t return requests for comment.
The officer who killed Babbitt works for the U.S. Capitol Police, according to federal officials. The Department of Justice in April said prosecutors decided not to pursue charges against the officer because officials “determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.”
The officer, through his attorneys, has defended his actions, which were captured on video footage in the chaos that ensued when various groups breached the Capitol on Jan. 6. The officer claims he shouted at Babbitt to stop as she attempted to climb through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby, adjacent to the House chamber, but Roberts has alleged there’s no evidence of that having happened.
The new action is part of an effort to collect records before filing a lawsuit asserting that the officer violated Babbitt’s constitutional rights, Roberts told The Epoch Times.
“It’s commonly done in cases like this where you can get access to police records and things like that through FOIA actions,” he said.
“The complication here is that the Capitol Police are not subject to FOIA. However, they used the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia to conduct their investigation. In other words, the United States Attorney’s Office did a criminal investigation and relied upon the Metropolitan Police Department to conduct their factual investigation. And so now that they’ve decided against bringing charges, I am going to seek any kind of records that they may have collected in their investigation, including any records which identify the officer.”
There’s currently no timeline for bringing the lawsuit asserting constitutional violations.
A scheduling conference in the new lawsuit is slated to take place on Sept. 3, according to court records. Superior Court Judge Florence Pan is scheduled to hear the case.