An attorney representing the family of slain unarmed Jan. 6 protester Ashli Babbitt lashed out at the Capitol Police on Monday after officially clearing the officer who shot her of any wrongdoing.
The department concluded that shooting Babbitt, 35, who was trying to climb through the broken window of a door that leads into an anteroom near the House chamber, was justified because the officer acted within protocols and policy, thereby avoiding any disciplinary proceedings or criminal charges.
In making the announcement, Capitol Police officials said investigators had conducted a months-long probe and had talked with several witnesses, while also reviewing video feeds and radio calls.
“USCP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) determined the officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy, which says an officer may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury,” the department said in a press release, CBS News reported.
The officer has never been officially identified by the department, though police officers from civilian departments involved in the shooting of unarmed people, especially black Americans, are most often immediately revealed.
In one recent case, former Brooklyn Center, Minn., Police Officer Kim Potter was not only identified right away, but she is now facing charges of second-degree manslaughter.
In a post on the social media platform GETTR, conservative commentator and author Dinesh D’Souza explored that scenario.
“Imagine a left-wing Capitol protest with an unarmed black woman named #AshliBabbitt shot to death by a white police officer who was not threatened with any imminent harm. Now ask yourself what the reaction would be. Then ask if the real Ashli received equal justice under the law,” he wrote.
Capitol Police officials said the officer’s name is not being released out of concern for his safety. But the department said that he “potentially saved Members [of Congress] and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House Chamber where Members and staff were steps away.”
Terry Roberts, who is representing Babbitt’s family, responded with a statement Monday as well, lashing out at the Capitol Police for the department’s conclusions and demanding that officials release all of their findings along with the name of the officer — said to be a lieutenant — who shot and killed Babbitt.
“The press release issued today by the Capitol Police in no way demonstrates that the shooting of Ashli Babbitt was lawful and in compliance with Department Policy,” Roberts said while mocking the finding that the officer “potentially saved” members of Congress.
The attorney bristled at the claim that the officer ‘potentially saved’ Congress members and staff through his actions.
“Potentially? One cannot be shot for being potentially a threat,” Roberts said. “One has to be an imminent threat – a real and immediate threat.”
He pointed out again that Babbitt wasn’t armed and that there were no members of Congress anywhere close at the time she was shot.
ATTORNEY FOR ASHLI BABBITT’S FAMILY, TERRY ROBERTS RESPONSE TO THE US CAPITOL POLICE INTERNAL INVESTIGATION OF THE KILLING OF ASHLI BABBITT. pic.twitter.com/x3neLZ5pnF
— Justice For Ashli Babbitt (@ForAshli) August 23, 2021
“Killing her by shooting her at point-blank range was completely unnecessary,” Roberts argued. “This alone renders the shooting legally unjustified.”
“It is not enough to say that an officer did nothing wrong without showing how it reached such a conclusion. An investigation by the officer’s own police department conducted in secret proves nothing, and certainly is not an ‘exoneration,'” he added.
The Capitol Police finding comes after the Justice Department announced in April that no charges would be filed against the officer.
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