The police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt as she attempted to gain entry to restricted parts of the U.S. Capitol in the Jan. 6 insurrection will not face criminal charges, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Authorities determined there was insufficient evidence to support that the Capitol police officer violated civil rights laws in the shooting, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. said in a statement.
A federal investigation found it was reasonable that the officer, who has not been identified, believed it was necessary to fire at 35-year-old Babbitt in self-defense or in the defense of lawmakers and staffers who were evacuating the House chamber, according to the statement.
The Justice Department said it has closed the investigation, which was based on video footage, statements from the officer involved and witnesses and physical evidence.
Babbitt, whose social media accounts included posts that expressed support for Trump and the fringe online conspiracy group QAnon, has become a martyr-like figure on the far-right.
“The symbolic weight of her death in the seat of the national government was immediately evident, and right-wing accounts on platforms … moved quickly to memorialize Babbitt in posts calling for ‘justice,’ and demonizing the government and law enforcement,” the Anti-Defamation League said in January.
Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from California, was one of five people who died as hundreds of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol when Congress began to certify the results of the 2020 election. In video footage recorded that day and shared widely online, Babbitt is seen with a Trump flag around her shoulders as she tries to crawl through a broken window on a barricaded set of doors to an area just outside of the U.S. House of Representatives. A police officer inside the Speaker’s Lobby fires a single shot at Babbitt, who is hit in the shoulder and falls to the ground. The Justice Department called Babbitt’s death a “tragic loss of life” as it closed the investigation and offered condolences to her family.