Family of Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt suing officer for $10 million over alleged wrongful death

Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot on January 6 while participating in the Capitol riot; her family now plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit for $10 million against the officer who shot her.

On January 6, many Trump supporters entered the Capitol in the attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election. Babbitt was shot as she tried to climb through a broken window, and she died later in the hospital (Independent). The officer, whose name has not been released, has been cleared of criminal charges by the Department of Justice. Terry Roberts, the lawyer acting on behalf of the Babbitt family, claims she was “ambushed” by the officer, and the officer did not issue a warning before firing the fatal shot.

“It’s not debatable. There was no warning,” said Roberts. “I would call what he did an ambush. I don’t think he’s a good officer. I think he’s reckless.” The incident was caught on camera, and Roberts points out that no one appears to be ducking for cover prior to the shot, which he said indicates there was no verbal warning (Daily Mail). “If he’s yelling, they certainly aren’t showing any reaction to it. If he was giving any kind of warning, why didn’t they react?”  

An attorney for the unidentified Capitol officer said that verbal commands were issued but were inaudible on the video because he was wearing a mask; the video was also filmed from a considerable distance, behind a set of doors, and among several people. “It’s a false narrative that he issued no verbal commands or warnings. He was screaming ‘Stay Back! Stay Back! Don’t come in here!’” said Mark Schamel, the officer’s lawyer.

He added that it was within the officer’s rights to shoot. “He was acting within his training. Lethal force is appropriate if the situation puts you or others in fear of imminent bodily harm. There should be a training video on how he handled the situation. What he did was unbelievable heroism.”

While Babbitt was the only person to die during the Capitol riot, four Washington, D.C. police officers who were present during the riot have since committed suicide. In late April, President Joe Biden called the January 6 incident the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War” (NY Post).

The reactions to this comment were mixed, with some who affirmed this claim, but others listed important, devastating historical events. In a series of tweets, journalist Glenn Greenwald highlighted 9/11, Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma City bombing, and several other instances he believed were “worse attacks than Jan. 6.”



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