The U.S. Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6 during the insurrection was cleared Monday after an internal review concluded the action may have spared the lives of lawmakers and staffers who had barricaded themselves inside the building.
“The officer’s actions were consistent with the officer’s training and (U.S. Capitol Police) policies,” the agency’s inquiry found. The agency declined to identify the officer.
Federal prosecutors decided in April not to pursue criminal charges in the case.
Some who supported the Capitol siege by rioters angry about the outcome of the presidential election cast Babbitt as a martyr to the conservative cause. Former President Donald Trump described Babbitt as “innocent.”
Babbitt, 35, from San Diego, was trying to climb through a barricaded door near the House Speaker’s Lobby when the officer fired.
The Justice Department determined there was not enough evidence to prove that the officer who shot Babbitt did so unreasonably or in a manner that willfully deprived her of her civil rights. The investigation concluded the officer could reasonably believe he was firing in self-defense or in defense of members of Congress.
The Capitol Police Office of Professional Responsibility determined Monday that the officer’s conduct “was lawful and within Department policy,” which states that deadly force may be used when an officer “reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.”
Since the shooting, the agency said, the officer and the officer’s family have been the target of “numerous credibly and specific threats for actions that were taken as part of the job of all our officers: defending the Congress, Members, staff and the democratic process.”
“The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House Chamber where Members and staff were steps away,” the agency said. “USCP Officers had barricaded the Speaker’s Lobby with furniture before a rioter shattered the glass door. If the doors were breached, the rioters would have immediate access to the House Chambers.”
A Babbitt family representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment.