The Capitol Police officer who without warning, fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, one of the Americans who participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, was cleared of charges in an internal investigation.
According to a memo obtained by NBC News from Capitol Police, the officer, whose identity remained shielded, had been formally exonerated for the use of force.
“No further action will be taken in this matter,” said the commander of the Capitol Police’s Office of Personal Responsibility in the memo.
The officer was already cleared of charges in April by the Justice Department. This latest conclusion from the Capitol Police had brought the case to an end.
On Jan. 6, Babbitt received a shot in her shoulder as she attempted to access the Speaker’s gallery, located directly off the House floor as she was crawling through a broken window into the gallery. The window had been smashed earlier by a group of others trying to break into the building.
The Justice Department said there was no convincing proof that the officer’s action could lead to criminal prosecution.
The Supreme Court has interpreted section 42, a federal criminal, civil rights statute, to mean that there was action with a bad purpose in disregard of the law. Evidence that the officer acted out of fear, mistake, panic, misperception, negligence, or even poor judgment cannot establish the high level of intent required under Section 242
“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,” read the department in a statement.
An Air Force veteran, Babbitt was one of five persons killed in the riot, including a Capitol Police officer.
Before her untimely death, she had posted numerous messages on social media in recent years showing that she is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump and a follower and advocate of several popular radical right activists and QAnon conspiracy theory movement leaders.
Many rightists have not accepted Babbitt’s death, who argue that the officer did not necessarily have to shoot.
The shielding of the shooters’ identity also caused hot debate and speculation among people who wanted justice for her death.
In a podcast, Conservative commentator and author Dinesh D’Souza alleged the officer was Lieutenant Michael Byrd, a person of the black community.
“We’re getting a little closer to the identity of the man who shot Ashli Babbitt through the neck, killing her. And it’s time to reveal the name of the man, it’s Lieutenant Michael Byrd,” he said.
“This white woman, in this case, was doing nothing more than pushing her way through a window. In other words, she seems to pose no imminent danger to anyone, least of all to the cop,” he added.
Former President Donald Trump had also occasionally brought up the question of who might have shot the veteran. At one point, he was certain the officer was a head of security or a high-ranking Democratic member of Congress.
A senior law enforcement official had declined the allegations to NBC News, but there were no further details to ascertain either scenario.