Investigators looking into the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt, of one of the protesters who stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th, say they do not believe they will find enough evidence to charge a Capitol Police officer with murder, though they have yet to make an official recommendation to prosecutors.
Babbitt was one of several thousand protesters who, following a rally in support of then-President Donald Trump’s decision to challenge the results of November’s presidential election, stormed the U.S. Capitol and made entry, threatening legislators who had gathered to vote on whether to certify the Electoral College decision declaring Joe Biden the next president.
Babbitt was one of several protesters who attempted to enter the Speaker’s Lobby, according to a video of the incident posted to social media. She was shot, reportedly by a Capitol Police officer, as she attempted to climb through a broken window into the locked chamber. She was treated at the scene for a gunshot wound to her upper body and later died of her injuries.
She was one of six people to die as a result of the attack.
Investigators from the Washington, D.C., police department have been looking into all five deaths, including Babbitt’s, to determine whether city prosecutors should file charges. Authorities are also determining whether D.C. police should refer cases to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that, so far, investigators do not believe they have enough evidence to charge the Capitol Police officer, though they are not yet at the end of their probe.
“[F]ootage, combined with witness accounts, seems to show that the lieutenant, who has not been named, was left alone to confront a mob,” the Times noted, referencing the video posted to social media, which shows the confrontation in graphic detail. “The lieutenant has been on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation into the shooting and was interviewed by investigators last week.”
“But the officials warned on Monday that the investigation by the city’s police force, the Metropolitan Police Department, was not complete and that no recommendation had been made to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, which would prosecute the officer,” the Times continued.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported that D.C. police had a preliminary finding in the matter, noted that Justice Department officials will also have a say, and they have yet to reach their own conclusion.
“The U.S. attorney’s office in Washington is leading the broader investigation into the riot and prosecuting the more than 150 cases that have resulted to date,” the WSJ noted Tuesday, adding that, in addition to the matter of whether Babbitt’s death was the result of criminal behavior, the Justice Department is looking into whether the Capitol Police officer had the right to use deadly force to repel the attack on the Speaker’s Lobby.
“Lethal force is deemed legally justified if an officer has an ‘objectively reasonable’ fear of serious harm to themselves or others,” the Times noted. “Two people familiar with the lieutenant’s account suggested that he would argue that he had acted to protect lawmakers from harm. Five people died during the assault on the Capitol and in the immediate aftermath.”