• Sat. May 8th, 2021


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Capitol Police Officer Won’t be Charged in Death of Rioter Ashli Babbitt

Prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges against the Capitol Police lieutenant who shot to death a woman who stormed the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday after a three-month investigation.

The department’s decision to formally close the case followed the results of a preliminary inquiry that determined in February that charges were not warranted.

The woman, Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, was among a mob of pro-Trump supporters that sought to gain entrance to the floor of the House through the Speaker’s Lobby while officers were evacuating lawmakers from the chamber.

At one point, as people in the mob shattered the lobby’s glass doors, Ms. Babbitt tried to climb through one and a police lieutenant on the other side fired a single shot, hitting her in the left shoulder, the Justice Department said in a statement. After being taken to a hospital, she died.

In conducting their investigation, prosecutors inspected videos posted on social media, evidence from the scene of the shooting, Ms. Babbitt’s autopsy and statements from the lieutenant, who has not been named, the Justice Department said. Officials determined there was “insufficient evidence” to warrant a criminal prosecution.

Ms. Babbitt was one of five people who died as a result of the assault on the Capitol and in its immediate aftermath. In death, she became a martyr-like figure for the far-right extremists who have supported former President Donald J. Trump.

The investigation into her shooting involved civil rights prosecutors who opened an excessive force inquiry. In its statement on Wednesday, the Justice Department said that inquiry had not produced evidence that the police lieutenant had willfully deprived Ms. Babbitt of her civil rights.