WASHINGTON – A preliminary investigation has not found enough evidence to indict the U.S. Capitol Police lieutenant who killed Ashli Babbitt, a pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol last month, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation.
But officials warned on Monday that the investigation by the city’s police, the Metropolitan Police Department, was not completed and that no recommendation had been made to the US attorney’s office in Washington, which would prosecute. the officer.
Ms Babbitt, 35, was involved in one of the few mob attacks that nearly reached members of Congress during the hour-long siege on Capitol Hill on January 6. She and other rioters hammered on the doors separating them from the House chamber as lawmakers evacuated.
As Ms Babbitt attempted to jump a barrier and enter the speaker’s lobby through a broken window, the Capitol Police lieutenant shot and killed her. Although authorities did not provide a full account of Ms Babbitt’s fatal meeting, it was filmed and widely shared on social media.
But the images, combined with the testimonies, appear to show the lieutenant, who has not been named, was left alone to face a crowd. The lieutenant was on administrative leave pending the results of the shooting investigation and was questioned by investigators last week.
The preliminary results were reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.
Dustin Sternbeck, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department, said “it would be premature” for the department “to make any comment that a conclusion has been drawn.” The Justice Department and Capitol Police said their agencies had not commented on ongoing investigations.
Civil rights attorneys at the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched a formal federal investigation into excessive force into Ms. Babbitt’s death in the days following the Capitol Riot, a “routine standard procedure whenever an officer deploys lethal force, ”a spokeswoman for the Justice Department said when an investigation was announced.
Lethal force is considered legally justified if an officer has an “objectively reasonable” fear of suffering serious harm to himself or to others. Two people familiar with the lieutenant’s account suggested he would argue that he acted to protect lawmakers from harm. Five people died in the assault on the Capitol and immediately after.
In death, Ms Babbitt has become a martyr figure for extreme right-wing extremist groups that have long supported former President Donald J. Trump, many of whom came to Capitol Hill to prevent official certification of President Biden’s victory in the electoral college, including white nationalists. and members of the militia. She could continue to serve as a rallying cry for supporters of Mr. Trump if the officer is not charged.
Ms Babbitt, who served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for more than a dozen years, was seen on video in the moments before her death wearing a Trump flag as a cape.
His social media accounts were filled with messages of support for Mr. Trump, as well as QAnon conspiracy theories.
“Nothing will stop us,” she said on Twitter the day before as she and Mr. Trump’s supporters attack Congress. “They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it’s coming down to DC in less than 24 hours…. dark to light!
Adam goldman contribution to reports.