The Capitol police officer who killed Ashli Babbitt followed his training and department policies during the Jan. 6 shooting, the law enforcement agency said.
In a press release, the USCP said that it had completed its internal probe into the shooting without recommending any discipline for the officer. The officer acted “lawfully,” the agency said, in protecting both himself and members of Congress as a pro-Trump mob threatened to break into the Speaker’s Lobby during the Capitol insurrection.
The decision comes after former president Trump has started to participate in a far-right effort to make Babbitt a martyr of the Capitol insurrection, casting her not as someone fatally deluded by the belief that the 2020 elections were stolen but rather as an innocent woman killed by a rogue federal agent. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who maintains ties to the far-right, has taken the lead in that effort, asking former DOJ officials why Babbitt was “executed.”
In Babbitt’s case, many on the right have come to believe that the officer who killed her is African American. Some of the commentary has made direct reference to that theory, racializing the circumstances of her death.
The identity of the officer who killed Babbitt has not been released. The Capitol police said in a statement that “credible” death threats have been made against the officer.
“This officer and the officer’s family have been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats for actions that were taken as part of the job of all our officers: defending the Congress, Members, staff and the democratic process,” the statement reads.
The statement goes on to hew towards an account of Babbitt’s death that has been offered by witnesses at the scene of the shooting and which appears to be partly corroborated by video of the event.
The officer made the decision to shoot, the agency said, after rioters “forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House Chamber where Members and staff were steps away.”
“USCP Officers had barricaded the Speaker’s Lobby with furniture before a rioter shattered the glass door,” the statement reads. “If the doors were breached, the rioters would have immediate access to the House Chambers.”
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), who witnessed the shooting, has separately said that the officer’s decision to shoot prevented more carnage by stopping the mob from making it into the House Chambers, where members of Congress were hiding.
“My mind started going on — if they breach that door, we will have to engage them really quick,” Mullin recalled in a July interview about his experience on Jan. 6. “And that engagement would be whatever it took to stop them.”
The police found that the officer’s actions on Jan. 6 protected members of Congress, and so were “consistent with the officer’s training and USCP policies and procedures.”
Terry Roberts, an attorney for the Babbitt family, did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.