The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it has closed the investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt, who died in the January 6 Capitol breach, and has determined that it will not seek criminal charges against the officer who fatally shot her that day.
The department said it had determined that no charges would be filed after examining video footage of the incident, taking statements from other officers and witnesses, inspecting the physical evidence and reviewing the autopsy report. The DOJ said that prosecutors would not have sufficient evidence to prove that the officer who shot Babbitt used constitutionally unreasonable force with a “bad purpose to disregard the law.”
Babbitt, 35, was one of several people who died amidst the Capitol riot. The D.C. Medical Examiner’s office determined that Babbitt died of a gunshot wound to the left shoulder and that two other deaths from the day were attributable to natural causes — both attributed to cardiovascular disease. The medical examiner also determined that a fourth person’s death was an accident caused by “acute amphetamine intoxication.”
The medical examiner has not determined a cause of death for Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the hospital on January 7 after he was injured in the breach.
As The Wall Street Journal reported in February, the Department of Justice had been conducting an excessive force investigation over Babbitt’s death but had not gathered enough evidence to bring charges against the officer who shot her. People familiar with the matter also told the WSJ that, although investigators had preliminarily determined that charges against the officer were not warranted, a final determination would be made at a later date.
The Department of Justice statement on Wednesday reads, in part:
The investigation further determined that Ms. Babbitt was among a mob of people that entered the Capitol building and gained access to a hallway outside “Speaker’s Lobby,” which leads to the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time, the USCP was evacuating Members from the Chamber, which the mob was trying to enter from multiple doorways. USCP officers used furniture to barricade a set of glass doors separating the hallway and Speaker’s Lobby to try and stop the mob from entering the Speaker’s Lobby and the Chamber, and three officers positioned themselves between the doors and the mob. Members of the mob attempted to break through the doors by striking them and breaking the glass with their hands, flagpoles, helmets, and other objects. Eventually, the three USCP officers positioned outside the doors were forced to evacuate. As members of the mob continued to strike the glass doors, Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out. An officer inside the Speaker’s Lobby fired one round from his service pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, causing her to fall back from the doorway and onto the floor. A USCP emergency response team, which had begun making its way into the hallway to try and subdue the mob, administered aid to Ms. Babbitt, who was transported to Washington Hospital Center, where she succumbed to her injuries.