- The Washington Times
Monday, May 24, 2021

Conservative activist group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit Monday demanding police and medical examiner investigations into the death of Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by a U.S. Capitol Police officer during the Jan. 6 riot.

The lawsuit against the Washington, D.C., government seeks all investigative reports, photographs, witness statements, dispatch logs, ballistics and officials’ electronic communications regarding the investigation into Babbitt’s death.

Judicial Watch said it filed a FOIA request for the records on April 9, but has yet to receive a response.

“The normal course of action in a police-related shooting is to quickly inform the public of the details — but the lack of transparency in the killing of veteran Ashli Babbitt in the U.S. Capitol is unprecedented and obviously political,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

“That Judicial Watch must file a lawsuit for basic information after five months of stonewalling is a scandal,” the statement continued.

The Judicial Watch lawsuit comes more than a month after the Justice Department said it would not file criminal charges against the officer who killed Babbitt.

An attorney representing Babbitt’s family told The Washington Times last week that he intends to sue the U.S. Capitol Police for more than $10 million.

“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.

Some members of Congress have raised similar questions about Babbitt’s death.

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.

The member of Congress said Babbitt was unarmed and wrapped in a U.S. flag.

“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.

Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, was among the mob of supporters of former President Trump who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt Congress’ efforts to certify President Biden’s election victory.

Babbitt and a group of rioters gained access to a hallway outside the Speaker’s Lobby which leads into the House chamber.

As she tried to climb headfirst through the broken glass of a door separating the hallway from the lobby, she was shot once in the left shoulder by an officer who had drawn his service pistol. The officer’s face cannot be seen in video footage of the incident.

Babbitt fell backward onto the floor after being shot. She was transported to a nearby hospital where she died, the Justice Department said.

The Justice Department last month announced that it had closed the investigation into the shooting and would not bring criminal charges against the officer, who has not been publicly identified.

Babbitt’s family has vowed to pursue legal action over the decision.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.