Ashli Babbitt’s family is planning to sue the U.S. Capitol Police Department and the officer who shot and killed Babbitt during the incursion of the Capitol on Jan. 6, their attorney announced Thursday.
Plans for the lawsuit, which will seek “at least $10 million” in damages, were announced after federal prosecutors decided not to press criminal charges against the plainclothes Capitol police lieutenant who killed Babbitt, Zenger News reported Thursday.
“Prosecutors would have to prove not only that the officer used force that was constitutionally unreasonable, but that the officer did so ‘willfully,’ which the Supreme Court has interpreted to mean that the officer acted with a bad purpose to disregard the law,” the Justice Department said in a statement April 14.
“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.”
She was shot and killed while rioters tried to break through the doors of the Speaker’s Lobby at the Capitol, according to The Washington Post. She was unarmed.
Babbitt sought to climb through a smashed pane of glass to enter the lobby, The Post reported. It is unclear if she heard warnings from the crowd around her.
Graphic video footage showed her being shot in the neck by a plainclothes Capitol police officer and falling onto the floor, Zenger News reported.
Babbitt was evacuated out of the building on a stretcher and later died at Washington Hospital Center.
The name of the officer has not been released. Capitol police told Forbes that is “standard procedure when there are concerns for an officer’s safety, as there are in this case.”
“A rookie police officer would not have shot this woman,” family attorney Terry Roberts told Zenger News.
“If she committed any crime by going through the window and into the Speaker’s Lobby, it would have been trespassing. Some misdemeanor crime. All a rookie cop would have done is arrest her.”
Roberts added that there were plenty of police officers on the scene who could have helped with an arrest.
“What it looks like is this guy shot this lady for no legitimate law enforcement purpose. And you know, they ought to be pretty ashamed of that,” he said.
“You would probably expect this kind of thing to happen in Russia, where people get bumped off and you don’t know why they get bumped off.”
Economic losses from Babbitt’s death would total $2 million and non-economic claims would push the sum to about $10 million, according to Roberts.
“This is a clear case of excessive force,” he said, so he doesn’t think the police lieutenant could assert qualified immunity.
Roberts said he will deliver the lawsuit “within the next ten days,” Zenger News reported.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.