Investigators have determined the Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the U.S. Capitol riot should not be charged with any crimes, a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation told NBC News.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that police investigators have recommended the officer not be charged, although the U.S. Attorney’s Office will make the final decision on the matter.
Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran and ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, was shot during the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.
The pro-Trump rioters wanted to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election and were threatening members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence, who were evacuated as the mob made its way closer to and eventually inside the Capitol Building.
Videos show rioters who made it into the building breaking glass on doors near the House Chamber, which were blocked haphazardly from the inside with chairs in an attempt to prevent the mob from entering. As Babbitt tried to climb through the shattered glass, she was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer who fired at her once.
The officer, who has not been identified by Capitol Police or investigators, “used clear appropriate use of force. It’s not even a close call,” said the officer’s lawyer, Mark E. Schamel.
The broken doors and a few officers were the only things separating the mob from members of Congress, Schamel stressed. “I think it’s his heroism and his restraint that saved lives,” Schamel told NBC News.
The Department of Justice announced last month that the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia would investigate the shooting, and the officer was placed on leave.
“This is routine, standard procedure whenever an officer deploys lethal force. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is overseeing the investigation,” a Justice Department spokesperson said at the time.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for the Capitol Police said the department does not comment on ongoing investigations.
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department said the investigation was not complete, and “it would be irresponsible to make an investigatory assumption or to jump to any conclusion.”
“There is no further update available to provide at this time,” she said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington is investigating the attack on the Capitol and leading prosecutions against an ever-growing list of more than 150 people who were allegedly involved.
Four other people, including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the Jan. 6 rioting.
Using the handle CommonAshSense, Babbitt’s Twitter account was almost singularly focused on radical conservative topics and conspiracy theories.
Babbitt was a loyal Fox News watcher, according to thousands of tweets to Fox News hosts, but she also engaged on social media with the conspiracy site InfoWars. In 2020, Babbitt began to tweet with QAnon accounts and use QAnon hashtags.
The day before the rally, she tweeted, “Nothing will stop us….they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours….dark to light!”
On forums and platforms like Parler, where Trump supporters and QAnon followers fled after being banned on Twitter and Facebook, many claimed Babbitt’s death was faked. Others on the far-right have hailed Babbitt as a martyr for the cause.