A US Capitol Police officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt during the 6 January riot.
Ms Babbitt was shot as she attempted to beach a barricaded doorway inside the Capitol as pro-Trump rioters stormed Congress. The incident was caught on camera.
Federal prosecutors in Washington, DC made the decision saying that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Ms Babbitt’s civil rights were violated.
It was determined that it was reasonable to believe that the unnamed officer acted out of self defence or in the line of duty, defending lawmakers and congressional staff as they fled the House chamber.
Prosecutors informed Congress and Ms Babbitt’s family on Wednesday of their decision.
A statement by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said that the Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges against the officer having studied footage of the incident posted to social media, as well as statements from the officer involved, and other witnesses.
The shooting of Ms Babbitt is one of the defining moments of the siege of the Capitol, with footage quickly going viral on the day.
In their statement, prosecutors acknowledge the tragic loss of Ms Babbitt’s life and offer condolences to her family.
The investigation determined that the veteran was among a mob of people that entered the Capitol building and gained access to a hallway outside Speaker’s Lobby, adjacent to the House chamber, as officers were evacuating lawmakers.
Capitol Police barricaded a set of glass doors with furniture to stop the mob’s progress through the building, with three officers standing guard outside the doors.
As rioters tried to break through the doors by smashing the glass, those three officers were forced to evacuate. Ms Babbitt then attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken.
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. She was immediately treated by a Capitol Police emergency response team that was trying to subdue the mob,
After being transported to Washington Hospital Center, she succumbed to her injuries.
Ms Babbitt was one of five people who died during or after the 6 January attack on the Capitol.
Officer Brian Sicknick, also an Air Force veteran, died due to injuries sustained “while physically engaging with protestors” — it is believed he was sprayed in the face with mace or bear spray and collapsed later.
Three other rioters died on the day — one was killed in a crush, one had a heart attack, and one had a stroke.
Two members of the Capitol Police died by suicide in the days after the siege. Numerous others were wounded.
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