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Prosecutors won't pursue charges in shooting death of Ashli Babbitt during Capitol riot

Federal prosecutors in Washington, DC, will not pursue criminal charges against the US Capitol Police officer involved in the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt...

Posted: Apr 14, 2021 11:54 AM

Federal prosecutors in Washington, DC, will not pursue criminal charges against the US Capitol Police officer involved in the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt during the riot at the Capitol on January 6, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The Justice Department said it has cleared the officer involved and has closed its investigation, saying there is "insufficient evidence" to support prosecution.

"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," the DOJ statement said. The officer involved was not named.

Babbitt's fatal shooting on January 6 occurred as a crowd pushed toward a doorway -- barricaded by chairs and guarded by Capitol Police -- that was the entrance to the Speaker's Lobby in the US Capitol building. Babbitt was given medical assistance immediately and taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

"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 Justice Department said. "Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution."

The federal probe focused on constitutional issues that would be difficult to prove in court, like whether the officer "willfully" used force against Babbitt that violated her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizures.

Justice Department officials informed a representative of Babbitt's family about the decision on Wednesday, the department said. She was the only person killed by police among the thousands of rioters who breached the building or amassed on the Capitol grounds.

A CNN review of Babbitt's social media accounts showed that she frequently voiced support for former President Donald Trump and other conservative figures on Facebook, and promoted far-right conspiracy theories. Her online postings also embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to The New York Times.

She was a senior airman in the US Air Force from 2004 to 2008, served in the Air Force Reserves until 2010, and was in the Air National Guard until 2016, according to military records.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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