WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed Wednesday it has closed its investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt and will not pursue criminal charges against the Capitol Police officer who shot her during the Jan. 6 riot.
Authorities “determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution” against the officer, following a “thorough investigation” that examined video footage, eyewitness statements and physical evidence surrounding the shooting, the DOJ stated in a news release.
Babbitt, 35, was one of five people who died when thousands of former President Donald Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6, smashing windows and brawling with police officers while Congress was in session to ratify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.
Dr. Francisco Diaz, chief medical examiner in Washington, D.C., confirmed last week that Babbitt, 35, died from a gunshot wound to her left shoulder and ruled her death a homicide.
Diaz also determined two other people died of natural causes and a third from acute amphetamine intoxication, but the cause and manner of death for Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick remain pending.
Babbitt, a U.S. Air Force veteran from Southern California, was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer, who has not been publicly identified, as she tried to climb through the broken glass window of a door to the lobby, which had been barricaded from the inside with furniture, CNBC reported.
Babbitt fell backwards onto the floor following the gunshot and was transported to an area hospital where she died, the network reported.
Prosecutors notified a representative of Babbitt’s family of its findings Wednesday and issued a statement to Babbitt’s family “acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences,” The Washington Post reported.
When reached by the Post by phone, Roger Witthoeft, Babbitt’s brother, requested more time to compose a response to prosecutors’ decision.
Prosecutors seeking to convict law enforcement officers of civil rights violations – including shootings that result in death – must be able to prove that an officer used “objectively unreasonable” force and “willfully” used more force than believed necessary, the Post reported.