The Department of Justice has decided to not file charges against the U.S. Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, 35, during the Capitol siege that took place on Jan. 6.
The Justice Department rolled out a press release to announce the decision. In it, they said their investigation failed to find evidence that the police officer had violated federal laws. Additionally, they did find anything that contradicted that he believed he needed to shoot, aiming at Babbit “in self-defence” or to defend Congress members and other people evacuating the area.
The press release also stated that officials reviewed the video footage circulated on social media. They also reviewed statements from the officer himself, as well as witnesses to the event and physical evidence gathered from the scene. Based on their investigation, the Justice Department said they found insufficient evidence that would support a criminal prosecution.
Their investigation found the victim among the mob that broke into the Capitol building and got into the hallway outside of Speaker’s Lobby, an area that leads to the House Chamber. When she did, officers from the USCP was evacuating the people in the Chamber.
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The statement also revealed a harrowing account of what the office experienced.
It said some members of the mob tried to break through the doors by hitting them and destroying the glass with their hands and other objects like flagpoles and helmets. Later on, three officers who were stationed out the doors had to evacuate. While this happened, Babbit tried to climb through one of the doors where the mob managed to break the glass.
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The officer then fired a round from his service pistol and ended up striking Babbit on her left shoulder. This resulted in her falling back onto the floor from the doorway. An emergency response team from the USCP gave aid to Babbitt, who was also transported to Washington Hospital Center. There, Babbit succumbed to her injuries.
The Justice Department also mentioned that the focus of the investigation was to find out whether the officer broke any federal laws. One of them includes federal criminal civil rights violations.
They mentioned that in federal court, evidence showing that an officer who acted out of fear, panic, mistake, negligence and even bad judgment doesn’t have enough gravity to establish a high level of intent required under law. It also notified the victim’s family that the case is closed.
Babbit was one of the five fatalities at the riot.