Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., will not charge the U.S. Capitol Police officer involved in the shooting death of a woman during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
The DOJ said in a statement that there is insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against the officer who shot and killed 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt.
"Officials 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. Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution," the department said.
Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from San Diego, had participated in the protest of the 2020 presidential election results that turned violent when a mob of individuals invaded the Capitol. She had joined the crowd of people that broke into the Capitol building while a joint session of Congress was meeting to certify the Electoral College vote.
As rioters stormed into the building, video footage that circulated on social media appeared to show Babbitt with others outside the "Speaker's Lobby" near the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. Capitol police officers had used furniture to set up barricades to stop people from entering the lobby or the House chamber as members of Congress were evacuated. Some rioters attempted to break through the glass doors to the Speaker's Lobby, attacking the glass with flagpoles, helmets, or other objects.
At one point, Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the windows that had been smashed open. A Capitol Police officer inside the Speaker's Lobby fired a single shot from his firearm, which struck her in the left shoulder, prosecutors said. U.S. Capitol Police emergency responders administered aid to Babbitt, who was transported to Washington Hospital Center, where she died of her injuries.
Babbitt is one of five people who lost their lives during the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6, including a police officer. Three other people died because of medical emergencies.
A criminal investigation was launched to determine whether the officer who shot Babbitt violated any federal laws. After a review of the evidence, prosecutors determined they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer who shot Babbitt willfully broke the law.
"Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber," prosecutors said. "Acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences to Ms. Babbitt's family, the U.S. Attorney's Office and U.S. Department of Justice have therefore closed the investigation into this matter."