Probe clears police officer who shot woman in Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Capitol Police said on Monday an internal investigation has found no wrongdoing by the police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt, a supporter of then-President Donald Trump killed during the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The police department said in a news release it determined the officer’s conduct was “lawful and within Department policy.”

The officer, who has not been publicly identified, will not face internal discipline.

Babbitt, 35, was a U.S. Air Force veteran who embraced far-right conspiracy theories on social media, including Trump’s assertions that his 2020 presidential election loss was due to fraud.

“The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters,” the Capitol Police said in the news release.

More than 570 people face criminal charges related to the attack, which resulted in at least five deaths and temporarily sent lawmakers into hiding as they sought to formalize Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe in Washington; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Matthew Lewis)

U.S. closes probe of Capitol Police shooting of woman killed in Jan. 6 riot

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department has closed its investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt, a participant in a Jan. 6 riot shot by U.S. Capitol Police, saying there was no evidence to prove the officer who shot her had violated her civil rights.

Federal and local investigators have determined “there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” the Justice Department said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that her family had been informed of the decision.

Babbitt, 35, was an Air Force veteran and ardent supporter of former Republican President Donald Trump.

She was among a large mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, in a failed bid to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory and one of five people to die that day.

Her shooting was captured on video and posted widely on social media. In it, she can be seen climbing through a doorway with a smashed window, when a Capitol Police officer on the other side fires his gun.

Prosecutors have filed charges so far against more than 400 defendants in the Capitol riots, with some facing allegations they conspired to storm the building in advance.

The focus of the investigation into Babbitt’s death, however, entailed whether the officer had deprived her of her constitutional Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to an unreasonable seizure.

To prove such a case in court, the department would have needed to show not only that the officer used constitutionally unreasonable force, but that he did so “willfully.”

“The investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress,” the department said.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Chris Reese and Howard Goller)