The attorney representing the family of Ashli Babbitt, the woman shot and killed by U.S. Capitol Police during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, plans to sue the agency for more than $10 million and has already put officials on notice, demanding accountability for the slain Air Force veteran.
“Right now, we have no accountability — zero accountability — they give no explanation to justify the shooting and they do not even identify the officer. That is what they do in autocratic countries, not in the United States,” said Terrell N. Roberts III, a Maryland-based attorney.
“If we call ourselves a free people, you would think that Congress would be the first to demand transparency of its own police agency but you don’t hear that.”
Rep. Paul Gosar, Arizona Republican, demanded to know who “executed” Babbitt during a hearing earlier this month with former Trump administration officials probing the events of Jan. 6.
“Was the death of Ashli Babbitt a homicide?” Mr. Gosar said. “As the death certificate said, it was a homicide.”
Jeffrey Rosen, former acting attorney general of the Justice Department, declined to answer Mr. Gosar’s questions — including identifying the police officer who shot and killed Babbitt.
“I don’t want to get into the specific facts of investigations,” Mr. Rosen said.
Mr. Gosar’s office declined to weigh in Thursday on the family’s planned lawsuit.
Federal prosecutors cleared the officer who killed Babbitt from any criminal wrongdoing in the shooting last month. They reasoned the officer acted in self-defense and did not identify the officer.
The 35-year-old Air Force veteran was a Trump supporter, who unlawfully entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 to protest the certification of the 2020 election results. She entered the Capitol building with a mob during the joint session held for counting Electoral College votes, and attempted to crawl through a broken glass window to enter the chamber, according to the Justice Department. It was at that time an officer shot her in the shoulder.
She was taken to Washington Hospital Center where she later died.
The family will also pursue claims against the officer who shot Babbitt.
The Justice Department and Capitol Police have repeatedly declined to identify the officer involved in the killing.
Mr. Roberts said he’s reviewing video of the shooting that was captured by private citizens using their iPhones. He said he also won’t identify the officer by name at this time.
“The purpose of the case is to hold the police officer and the Capitol Police accountable for violating Ashli Babbitt’s constitutional right — that is the purpose,” he said.
“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,” read a press release from the DOJ at the time.
• Alex Swoyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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