WASHINGTON (AP) – An official who shot and killed a woman during the January 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol as she began climbing through the broken part of a door that opened into an area known as the speakers’ lobby was acting lawful and in line with police policy, the US Capitol Police announced on Monday.
Capitol Police announced the results of their internal investigation into the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt on Monday. Officials said they interviewed several witnesses and checked video and radio calls as part of the month-long investigation.
The federal prosecutor’s office also cleared the officer of any wrongdoing after an investigation into the shooting and did not name him publicly. The Capitol Police, concerned for his safety, have not released his name either. The officer’s attorney, Mark Schamel, said his client had been forced out of his home with “many credible death threats” and other “appalling threats”.
The Associated Press did not name the officer for security reasons.
Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from San Diego, was shot dead by the police lieutenant while trying to climb through a door with the glass smashed when she and others in the crowd were pushing to get into the speaker lobby outside the building House Chamber. She was unarmed.
Prosecutors said Babbitt was part of the mob that tried to break into the house when Capitol police officers evacuated members of Congress from the chamber. The officers tried to use furniture to barricade the glass doors that separate the hallway from the speakers’ lobby to fend off the rioters who kept trying to break through these doors and smash the glass with flagpoles, helmets and other objects.
At the same time, Babbitt was trying to climb through one of the doors where the glass had broken out. The officer then fired a single round from his service weapon in the speaker’s lobby and hit Babbitt in the shoulder, prosecutors said.
Capitol Police said their professional responsibility bureau – which is handling such investigations – has determined that “the officer’s conduct was lawful and in line with departmental guidelines.” The officer is not threatened with internal disciplinary action.
The policy states that an officer should only use lethal force when he reasonably believes his actions are in the defense of human life – either himself or someone else who may be “in imminent danger of serious bodily harm”, said officials.
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