The Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt during the January 6 insurrection should not be prosecuted, an initial police investigation has concluded.
Babbitt, 35, was killed as she tried to climb through a broken window to get into congressional chambers, after breaking into the federal building with a mob of pro-Trump rioters.
On Monday night sources told The Wall Street Journal that the unnamed Capitol lieutenant had been cleared by an internal investigation.
The Justice Department will ultimately decide whether to press charges, and is yet to make their conclusions.
Ashli Babbitt, 35, was shot and killed by a member of the Capitol Police during the riot
The mob was seen smashing windows and pushing at the doors while armed officers stood guard with their guns drawn on the other side. Babbitt was then seen trying to clamber through a smashed window to enter the chamber as a fellow rioter shouted ‘he’s got a gun’
It was always felt unlikely that the officer, who was in the last line of defense between the rioters and the politicians huddled inside, would be charged.
Federal prosecutors must be able to prove not only that an officer used excessive force, but also that the officer willfully violated someone’s constitutional rights.
The officer who fired the deadly shot told investigators, according to The New York Times, that there was utter confusion at the time, and he feared the rioters were about to access the chamber when he pulled the trigger.
Instead, there were police outside and they moved away as reinforcements arrived.
The crowd smashed the glass with a helmet and stick, according to video footage.
Multiple videos of the shooting posted on social media showed Babbitt, who appears to be wearing a Trump flag as a cape, falling from a smashed-out window after being shot by the officer on the other side of a set of double doors.
Footage shows three officers guarding the door appearing to make way for the back-up tactical team, with one saying: ‘They’re ready to roll.’ That leaves the door completely unguarded as the rioters continue to try and break down the doors
A gunshot then rung out and the 35-year-old fell back out from the window onto the ground
The officer said he had used tables and chairs to barricade the door to the highly restricted area and said he had 31 rounds in his gun. The officer said he thought he heard that shots had been fired elsewhere in the Capitol before the fatal shooting
The officer claimed to have not known there had been three officers guarding the door. He said he had only seen the crowd advancing towards him in the moments before Babbitt’s death at around 2:30pm.
Footage shows the three officers guarding the door had no visible shields or riot gear.
The officer, who was put on leave pending an investigation, also claims he did not know a tactical team was on its was to help clear out the rioters.
Footage shows as the three officers guarding the door appear to make way for this team, with one saying: ‘They’re ready to roll.’
But that leaves the door completely unguarded as the rioters continue to try and break down the doors.
The officer who shot at Babbitt has told officials he did not know if any of those in the crowd were armed as he fired his single shot.
He also said he had no advance planning on how to deal with such a charge on the building.
Babbitt had traveled from San Diego to take part in the Trump rally and subsequent riot
Babbitt has become a martyr for Trump supporters, who have held multiple vigils for her
Babbitt and the crowd she joined had been heading for the passage that was being used to evacuate the House floor.
The officer said he had used tables and chairs to barricade the door to the highly restricted area and said he had 31 rounds in his gun. The officer said he also thought he heard that shots had been fired elsewhere in the Capitol earlier in the siege.
Christopher Ray Grider, 39, of Eddy, Texas told local outlets that he was just a few feet when Babbitt was shot.
He was later accused of willful depredation of federal property, remaining in a restricted area unlawfully, and violent entry in the January 6 riot.
Chad Barrett Jones, 42, of Coxs Creek, Kentucky, was charged with assault on a federal officer, certain acts during a civil disorder, destruction of government property over $1,000, obstruction of justice, unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds, violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
According to an affidavit, the FBI received a public tip identifying Jones through images taken from the video in which Babbitt was shot.
Thomas Baranyi, 28, also allegedly featured in a widely circulated interview filmed in the aftermath of the death Babbitt. Federal agents viewed footage of Babbitt’s shooting and saw a man wearing the same blue Giants sweater and black baseball cap standing beside her.
Baranyi has been charged for his alleged role in the riot.
Babbitt has become a martyr for Trump supporters, who have held multiple vigils in her memory.
Dozens of people have been charged over the January 6 insurrection
The mob overran the small contingent of Capitol Police for the first time since 1814
On social media she is described as a veteran and libertarian who loved her husband, her large black-and-white dog ‘and above all, my country.’
Based in San Diego, California, her military service included several deployments to Iraq during the war.
On the day before the riot, Babbitt tweeted: ‘Nothing will stop us….they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours….dark to light!’
Babbitt’s husband Aaron paid tribute to his wife, who served 14 years in the Air Force, as a staunch Trump supporter who was ‘a great patriot to all who knew her.’
He said: ‘She didn’t have any weapons on her, I don’t know why she had to die in the People’s House. She was voicing her opinion and she got killed for it.’
DailyMail.com exclusively reported that Babbitt had a significant rap sheet that included reckless endangerment, malicious destruction of property and tampering with a car, and that she was the subject of two restraining orders.
She also had a three-way relationship with her husband with a 29-year-old bartender Kayla Joyce, who lived with the married couple in San Diego.
Joyce told New York Magazine that she learned of her girlfriend’s death on TV.
‘I actually saw it first on video when I was on the phone with multiple hospitals trying to find her,’ the 29-year-old said.
‘We found out through the news. Through live television.
‘We were trying to get in touch with her once this sh*t was all over the media. We were trying to call and trying to call, and nothing. Her location services were off. We just couldn’t find her, and finally we saw the live video of her.’
Babbitt was one of five people killed in the riot.
Three others were also Trump supporters, while one was an on-duty cop who died trying to defend the Capitol from attack.
Roseanne Boyland, 34, was trampled in the Rotunda and crushed in the mob.
Kevin Greeson, 55, from Alabama suffered a heart attack ‘in the midst of the excitement’, according to his family.
Benjamin Phillips, 50, a computer programmer from Pennsylvania, died after suffering a stroke.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died when a fire extinguisher was thrown at his head by the mob.