Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt’s household sues for information on officer who fatally shot her
Clashes with Capitol police at a rally to challenge the certification of the results of the 2020 US presidential election by the US Congress on January 6, 2021 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, tear gas is released into a crowd of protesters.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
The family of Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt is suing Washington, DC, for surrendering records revealing the identity of the officer who fatally shot her during the January 6th invasion.
According to the lawsuit, the family is also requesting access to video footage of the shooting, testimony and documents gathered during the Metropolitan Police Department’s investigation into the incident.
The lawsuit is separate from an upcoming lawsuit in which Babbitt’s family plans to claim “well over $ 10 million” from the US Capitol, a family lawyer told CNBC.
The civil suit, filed last week in the District of Columbia Superior Court, comes more than a month after the Justice Department announced it would not bring criminal charges against the Capitol police officer who fatally shot Babbitt.
Days after that decision was announced in mid-April, Babbitt’s husband, Aaron Babbitt, filed a motion to file records with the MPD under the Freedom of Information Act, according to the lawsuit.
But police “failed” the FOIA request, the lawsuit said, by missing a May 12 deadline to either provide the materials to Aaron Babbitt or notify him that he was denied access would get them.
An MPD spokesman declined CNBC’s request for comment, saying the department does not comment on any pending litigation.
The Babbitt family attorney Terrell Roberts said in an email on Tuesday that the purpose of the FOIA lawsuit is to reveal the results of the investigation and the shooter’s identity.
Roberts also said that a pending lawsuit that will seek millions in compensation for losses “does not depend on the current FOIA action against the DC police force”.
This upcoming legal lawsuit will allege that the USCP violated Babbitt’s constitutional right against the use of excessive force “and possibly failure to train, discipline and oversee the official who killed Babbitt,” Roberts told CNBC an earlier email.
The lawsuit will seek “well in excess of $ 10 million” in reparation losses, he said.
This Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) driver’s license photo, provided to AP by the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, shows Ashli Babbitt.
Maryland MVA | Courtesy of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office via AP
Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, was one of hundreds of former President Donald Trump’s supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. The invasion derailed the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s election victory and forced a joint session of Congress in secret.
The break-in came after Trump insisted at a nearby rally that his supporters march to the Capitol and pressure Republicans not to accept the election results. The invasion resulted in five deaths.
The MPD’s internal affairs department, along with two US Attorney General’s civil rights offices for the DC, conducted “a thorough investigation” into Babbitt’s shooting, the Justice Department said in a April 14 press release.
These teams searched video on social media, the results of the autopsy, and testimony from the officer who fired the gun and others at the scene, the DOJ said.
“Based on this investigation, the officers determined that there was not enough evidence to support criminal prosecution,” the DOJ said.
“The investigation did not reveal any evidence that unequivocally proves that the officer intentionally violated a federal law on criminal civil rights,” the press release said.
Babbitt and a group of rioters gained access to a passage outside the speaker’s lobby that leads into the House of Representatives chamber.
She tried to climb headlong through the broken glass window of a door that separated the hall from the lobby, which was barricaded from inside with furniture. Other members of the crowd had broken shards of glass on the doors while beating them “with their hands, flagpoles, helmets and other items,” according to the DOJ press release.
An officer in the lobby with his service pistol drawn shot Babbitt once in the left shoulder, causing her to fall backwards to the floor. She was treated by a USCP emergency team before she was transported to the Washington Hospital Center, where she died, the DOJ said.
On the far right, Babbitt is now cast as a martyr. A crowdfunding site for Babbitt’s “official memorial” has raised more than $ 90,000 since it was founded, allegedly by her sister-in-law, three days after the invasion.
A pro-Babbitt group held a rally in the California capital over the weekend and reportedly clashed with another group who had gathered to commemorate Breonna Taylor who was fatally killed by police at her Louisville home in March 2020 was shot.
An initial planning conference on the FOIA lawsuit is scheduled for September 3 at 9:30 a.m. in front of Judge Florence Pan.