An attorney representing the family of slain Capitol Building protestor Ashli Babbitt clapped back at the Justice Department after officials announced Wednesday there would be no charges filed against the plainclothes officer who shot and killed her on Jan. 6.
Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was seen in videos attempting to climb through a broken window into another room off of the House floor when she was shot by the officer, who still has not been publicly identified. She was unarmed.
“The shooting of Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021 by an unidentified U.S. Capitol Police Officer was an unjustified use of deadly force which violated her constitutional rights,” said attorney Terrell N. Roberts, III, of Roberts & Woods in Riverdale, Md.
“It is clear from video footage that Ashli did not pose a danger to the officer, or any other person, when she was shot. Ashli was unarmed. She did not assault anyone. She did not threaten to harm anyone. There was no excuse for taking her life,” he added.
Roberts said that it’s “a universal law enforcement standard” that police officers are not supposed to use more force than is required to subdue a suspect or “accomplish a lawful purpose,” noting that Babbitt was small in stature at 5′ 2″ tall and 110 pounds and speculating that she could have been arrested “by a single officer with a set of handcuffs.”
“At the time of the shooting, there were over a half-dozen police officers in close proximity to the Speaker’s door where Ashli was standing. Some of those officers had just allowed protesters access to the door by stepping aside,” the attorney added.
“Other officers, dressed in full tactical gear, stood among the protesters just a few feet behind the door. Still, others stood casually at the opposite end of the Speaker’s Lobby, unconcerned with the activities of Ashli and the protesters around her. All of these officers were in a position to have aided in the apprehension of Ashli if it was necessary. Given her background as a 14-year veteran of the Air Force, it is likely that Ashli would have complied with simple verbal commands, thereby making the use of any force unnecessary,” he added.
Roberts noted further that the officer who shot her never made any attempt to actually arrest her, “nor did he call on his fellow officers to arrest her.” Rather, he simply fired at her, striking her in the chest, an account corroborated by people who were there at the time, as well as video of the incident.
“Witnesses confirm that the officer did not give Ashli a single verbal warning prior to firing. In fact, Ashli was not even aware that the officer was present, as he was located in the doorway of a room off to the side of her field of vision,” Roberts said.
“To date, the officer who shot Ashli has not been identified. Neither the Capitol Police nor any other governmental authority has given an account of the facts surrounding the shooting,” he continued.
“There has been no official explanation or justification for the use of lethal force in this matter. This lack of transparency impedes the public scrutiny which is necessary to hold government officials accountable in a free society. It also interferes with the ability of Ashli’s family to obtain justice for their loss,” he stated, pledging that his law firm will continue its investigation of the incident and pledging “appropriate legal action” when the probe is completed.
“We call upon the Capitol Police as well as the United States Congress to make public the facts and circumstances of Ashli’s shooting,” Roberts said.
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