The family of Ashli Babbitt, the unarmed Air Force veteran who was shot and killed by Capitol Police during the Jan. 6 protest, has filed a lawsuit seeking information about the officer who fired on her.
The suit was filed earlier this month in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and seeks information about the officer as well as video footage of the incident, statements from witnesses, and other information related to an investigation following the killing, according to reports Wednesday.
The legal action comes ahead of an expected lawsuit against the Capitol Police for wrongful death that will reportedly seek north of $10 million and comes after an investigation cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.
Babbitt, 35, was killed as she attempted to crawl through the broken window of a door that led into an anteroom outside the House chamber. Subsequent reports in the days following her death said that members of Congress had all been evacuated from the chamber when she was shot.
After an investigation “examined video footage posted on social media, statements from the officer involved and other officers and witnesses to the events, physical evidence from the scene of the shooting, and the results of an autopsy,” officials “determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” said the Justice Department after concluding its probe.
Earlier this month, legal watchdog group Judicial Watch also filed suit for information regarding the shooting. Specifically, the organization’s Freedom of Information Act suit seeks details about Babbitt’s autopsy from the medical examiner who performed it, as well as any similar information from Capitol Police.
“The normal course of action in a police-related shooting is to quickly inform the public of the details – but the lack of transparency in the killing of veteran Ashli Babbitt in the U.S. Capitol is unprecedented and obviously political,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a statement. “That Judicial Watch must file a lawsuit for basic information after five months of stonewalling is a scandal.”
The FOIA suit requests “all records, including but not limited to investigative reports, photographs, witness statements, dispatch logs, schematics, ballistics, video footage, and MPD officials’ electronic communications, concerning the January 6, 2021, death of Ashli Babbitt in the Capitol Building and its related investigation.”
The officer who shot Babbitt has yet to be publicly identified, which has led to increased calls from media figures and others to name him.
“Who killed Ashli Babbitt and why is the name being kept secret? I’ve never covered a case where a shooter’s name has been kept secret for any reason in all my years as a reporter. It’s considered public record; at least until now,” investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson wrote in a since-deleted tweet on March 31.
Journalist Andrew Feinberg responded at the time: “Capitol Police have very few public records obligations.”
That led Attkisson to reply, “Interesting; so do they have exceptions/exemptions to the normal practices and expectations? And do you know anybody trying to reveal this information that’s in the public interest? tx.”
Attorneys for the Babbitt family have consistently charged there was no legal justification to shoot her.
“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,” a statement from the family said earlier this spring.
“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,” the statement added.
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