U.S. Capitol Police have formally exonerated an officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6.
“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,” Capitol Police said in a statement.
The officer, who remains unidentified, will not face disciplinary action.
Their actions “potentially saved Members 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,” Capitol Police said in the release.
“If the doors were breached, the rioters would have immediate access to the House Chambers. The officer’s actions were consistent with the officer’s training and USCP policies and procedures,” the agency continued.
Babbitt was shot as she tried to enter the Speaker’s gallery just off the House floor in the Capitol on Jan. 6. A group of people who had stormed the building had slammed through a window to the gallery, and Babbitt was climbing through that space.
The officer fired one shot, hitting Babbitt in the left shoulder.
Federal prosecutors announced in April that they would not be pursuing charges against the officer, saying in a statement that officials determined there was “insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.”
“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,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement at the time.
Babbitt has been viewed by some on the right as a martyr, including by former President Trump, who claimed in July that the officer who shot the 35-year-old had “no reason” to shoot her.
Monday’s release from USCP notes the 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.”