On the left, supporters of President Trump storm the United States Capitol building. On the right, a driver’s license photo of Ashli Babbit. (Left, Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington automate your posting via Getty Images) (Right, Maryland MVA/Courtesy of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
The Capitol Police officer who shot and killed 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt during the January 6 insurrection probably didn’t break any laws, and as a result, won’t face federal charges, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
Babbitt, a QAnon adherent and Stop the Steal devotee from the San Diego area, was shot once in the shoulder while attempting to climb through a broken window inside the Capitol after rioters had breached the building. The DOJ said in a statement that investigators from the Civil Rights Division found no evidence to indicate that the officer, who has never been identified, acted out of “fear, mistake, panic, misperception, negligence, or even poor judgement” when they shot Babbitt. The department also wrote that investigators couldn’t find any evidence to dispute the officer’s claim that he shot Babbitt to protect their life, or the lives of members of Congress who were in the process of being evacuated.
Babbitt and other rioters were attempting to gain access to a hallway outside the Speaker’s lobby on January 6. Members of Congress were close by, and police had piled up furniture to barricade a set of glass doors, but “members of the mob attempted to break through the doors by striking them and breaking the glass with their hands, flagpoles, helmets, and other objects,” the DOJ said. Eventually, the mob shattered the glass entryway, and three Capitol Police officers who were stationed by the doors were “forced to evacuate.” Then Babbitt tried to climb through the broken door. That’s when a Capitol Police officer pulled out his gun and shot her.
The moment Babbitt was shot was captured in graphic video by several rioters at the scene. The Capitol Police emergency response team made their way through the hallway and reached Babbitt, put her on a stretcher and carried her outside to an ambulance that was waiting nearby. She later died at the Washington Hospital Center.
Babbitt was one of five people who died as a result of the violence at the Capitol that day. Another woman Roseanne Boyland, also a QAnon devotee, died of an amphetamine overdose during the riot (initial reports stated that she had been trampled to death). One police officer, Brian Sicknick, died after he was sprayed with chemical substances by rioters, though investigators are still working to determine the cause of death.
It didn’t take long for Babbitt to be turned into a martyr by hardcore Trump supporters and far-right extremists. On 4chan, they came up with a flag to symbolize Babbitt—showing the outline of a woman standing in front of the Capitol, with a drop of blood. QAnon conspiracy theorists, including pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood, have meanwhile falsely claimed that the shooting of Babbitt was a “false flag” and that she is still alive.