The U.S. Capitol Police officer who shot dead an Air Force veteran during the tumultuous events on Jan. 6 will not be charged, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced April 14.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division decided jointly not to pursue charges against the officer.
The decision came after a “thorough investigation” into the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old who joined others in storming the U.S. Capitol in Washington during a joint session of Congress in January. Babbitt was shot while trying to climb through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby, adjacent to the House chamber.
“Officials examined video footage posted on social media, statements from the officer involved and other officers and witnesses to the events, physical evidence from the scene of the shooting, and the results of an autopsy,” the DOJ said in a statement.
“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.”
Mark Schamel, a lawyer representing the officer, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement: “This is the only correct conclusion following the events of January 6. The lieutenant exercised professionalism and fantastic restraint in defending and protecting members of Congress.”
The officer remains unidentified in the public sphere.
“As unfortunate as it is that the lieutenant had to resort to deadly force, he fired only one shot at the only person who breached the locked doors and makeshift barricade that had been erected. He did so after clearly identifying himself and ordering the mob not to come through the barricade,” Schamel added. “He used tremendous restraint in only firing one shot, and his actions stopped the mob from breaking through and turning a horrific day in American history into something so much worse.”
Babbitt’s family was informed before the decision was publicly announced.
Terrell Roberts, an attorney for the family, told The Epoch Times that the decision was “baffling.”
“I find it to be baffling given the circumstances that it’s a clear case of shooting an unarmed person without any legal justification, but I have no idea what went into their decision,” Roberts said.
The family plans to move forward with a lawsuit against the officer for excessive use of force.
Babbitt’s death was caused by the gunshot, which hit her left shoulder, the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled last week. The manner of death was homicide.
The DOJ stated that its probe focused on seeing whether federal prosecutors could prove that the officer violated any federal laws.
“The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 242,” it stated.
“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. 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.”