Federal prosecutors have declined to charge the officer who fatally shot 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.
Babbitt was shot and killed as she climbed through the broken part of a door during the insurrection by a pro-Trump mob as a joint session of Congress was attempting to certify the results of the election, which former President Donald Trump lost.
Based on an investigation conducted between the The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section and the Civil Rights Division, with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division (IAD), which examined video footage posted to social media, statements from officers, including the officer involved, witnesses, evidence from the scene and the results of an autopsy, "officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution."
"The investigation determined that, on January 6, 2021, Ms. Babbitt joined a crowd of people that gathered on the U.S. Capitol grounds to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election," the DOJ said in a release. "Inside the Capitol building, a Joint Session of Congress, convened to certify the results of the Electoral College vote, was underway. Members of the crowd outside the building, which was closed to the public during the Joint Session, eventually forced their way into the Capitol building and past U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers attempting to maintain order."
Video clips posted online depict Babbitt, wearing a stars and stripes backpack, stepping up and beginning to go through the waist-high opening of an area of the Capitol known as the Speaker’s Lobby when a gunshot is heard. She falls backward. Another video shows other unidentified people attempting to lift Babbitt up. She can be seen slumping back to the ground.
"The investigation further determined that Ms. Babbitt was among a mob of people that entered the Capitol building and gained access to a hallway outside 'Speaker’s Lobby,' which leads to the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives," the DOJ continued, noting that the Capitol Police was evacuating the House chamber and preventing people from trying to enter at the time.
"As members of the mob continued to strike the glass doors, Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out," the DOJ release stated. "An officer inside the Speaker’s Lobby fired one round from his service pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, causing her to fall back from the doorway and onto the floor."
Babbit was given aid and transported to Washington Hospital Center, where she succumbed to her injuries.
Her family was notified, and the U.S. Attorney's Office and the DOJ have closed the investigation.
Babbitt is one of five people who died in or outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Three other people died of medical emergencies.
Charges were not expected in the case because videos of the shooting show Babbitt encroaching into a prohibited space, and second-guessing the actions of an officer during the violent and chaotic day would have been a challenge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.