The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division ruled jointly not to pursue charges against the officer.
The verdict appeared after a “thorough investigation” into the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old who joined others in attacking the U.S. Capitol in Washington throughout a joint session of Congress in January. Babbitt was shot while attempting to climb through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby, adjacent to the House chamber.
“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 DOJ announced in a statement.
“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.”
Mark Schamel, a lawyer representing the officer, explained in a statement: “This is the only correct conclusion following the events of January 6. The lieutenant exercised professionalism and fantastic restraint in defending and protecting members of Congress.”
The officer continues unknown in the public field.
“As unfortunate as it is that the lieutenant had to resort to deadly force, he fired only one shot at the only person who breached the locked doors and makeshift barricade that had been erected. He did so after clearly identifying himself and ordering the mob not to come through the barricade,” Schamel continued. “He used tremendous restraint in only firing one shot, and his actions stopped the mob from breaking through and turning a horrific day in American history into something so much worse.”
Babbitt’s family was notified before the judgment was publicly stated.
Terrell Roberts, an attorney for the family, explained that the choice was “baffling.”
“I find it to be baffling given the circumstances that it’s a clear case of shooting an unarmed person without any legal justification, but I have no idea what went into their decision,” Roberts stated.
The family intends to move forward with a lawsuit against the officer for excessive use of force.
Babbitt’s death was caused by the gunshot, which hit her left shoulder, the D.C. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled last week. The manner of death was homicide.
The DOJ declared that its inquiry directed on seeing whether federal prosecutors could confirm that the officer violated any federal laws.
“The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 242,” it stated.