A war of words has erupted between lawyers acting for the family of Ashli Babbitt and the unnamed Capitol police officer who fatally shot her during the January 6 insurrection.
Babbitt’s family are planning to file a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against the officer who shot her as she tried to force her way through a broken window near to where lawmakers were being evacuated.
The officer has already been cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Department of Justice.
A lawyer acting for the Babbitt family, Terry Roberts, alleged she was “ambushed” by the officer, and that the officer had failed to issue a warning prior to firing the shot.
"It’s not debatable. There was no warning," Mr Roberts told the Washington Examiner.
"I would call what he did an ambush. I don’t think he’s a good officer. I think he’s reckless."
The lawyer representing the unidentified officer, Mark Schamel, emphatically rejected that version of events, telling Real Clear Investigations: "He was screaming, ‘Stay back! Stay back! Don’t come in here!’"
Mr Schamel added: "Lethal force is appropriate if the situation puts you or others in fear of imminent bodily harm.
"There should be a training video on how he handled that situation. What he did was unbelievable heroism."
Video footage of the shooting shows dozens of rioters on one side of a glass door, having already breached the Capitol building and trying to force their way through into the debating chamber.
The agitated rioters chant “break it down, we don’t want to hurt you”.
They break a window and Ms Babbitt tries to force her way through. Rioters can be heard shouting, ‘There’s a gun’ moments before a shot is fired.
Babbitt, a 35-year-old military veteran from California, was shot in the shoulder and later died in hospital.
Her death has become a cause célèbre among Republican lawmakers and rightwing pundits, many of whom are seeking to minimise the severity of the January 6 insurrection, which President Joe Biden this week called the worst attack on US democracy since the Civil War.
Thousands of rioters chanting ‘hang Mike Pence’ overwhelmed the Capitol police force and breached the House chamber, forcing lawmakers who had gathered to certify the 2020 Presidential election to flee for their lives.
Four Washington DC police officers who defended the Capitol have since died by suicide. Officer Brian Sicknick died from a stroke the next day after suffering severe injuries during the riot.
A select committee has begun hearing evidence from other police officers who faced down the mob.
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