WASHINGTON — Ashli Babbitt’s family is planning to sue the U.S. Capitol Police Department and the officer who shot and killed her during the Capitol riot 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, Newsweek reported.
“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.”
Babbitt’s husband described the 14-year Air Force veteran as a “strong supporter of President Trump” and a “great patriot,” according to KUSI-TV in San Diego.
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, Newsweek reported.
Babbitt was evacuated out of the building on a stretcher and later died at Washington Hospital Center, Western Journal reported.
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 Newsweek.
“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 claimed there were plenty of officers at the scene who could’ve assisted with a detention and 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.
Roberts said he will deliver the lawsuit “within the next ten days,” Newsweek reported.