SAN DIEGO – The husband of a San Diego woman fatally shot when she and others broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 says the family is planning to sue Capitol Police and the officer who shot her.
Five people died, including 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, and hundreds others were injured when armed insurrectionists busted into the Capitol in an attempt to interrupt lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from Lakeside, was shot and killed by a police officer as she was climbing through a broken window inside the Capitol.
“What I saw that day is burned into my brain forever,” Aaron Babbitt said. “I watched my wife die. I identified my wife by turning on the TV and seeing her lay there without anybody telling me what had happened.”
Babbitt said he asked his wife not to travel to Washington D.C. in January, but she did so because she wanted to see President Donald Trump speak.
Trump initially was widely condemned and booted from social media platforms, including Twitter, for his role in provoking the riot by fostering “The Big Lie” — a false set of claims of massive voter fraud and that he, and not Democratic rival Joe Biden, had won the election. A week after the riot, Trump became the first U.S. president in history to be impeached twice with lawmakers citing his conduct before and during the events of Jan. 6.
Still, Babbitt doesn’t believe the Capitol Police officer should have escalated to shooting his unarmed wife so quickly.
“She gets up in that doorway and she looks over and this guy has a gun in her face and he’s telling her to stop or I’m going to shoot,” he said. “I 110% guarantee you she’s going to say this use-of-force continuum has started and I need to get out because this guy is serious, but there was no warning. She didn’t see him.”
Federal prosecutors are not pursuing charges against the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt with officials stating that there was insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.
“Acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences to Ms. Babbitt’s family, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Department of Justice have therefore closed the investigation into this matter,” the department said in an April 14 news release.
Her husband finds that decision difficult to process as local police departments across the country are being put under a microscope for using excessive force against citizens.
“They’re championing major police reform, but they have their own private police department that the buck stops with Congress,” he said.
A lawyer representing the Babbitt family says they plan to give the government notice of the suit within the next 10 days. As Ashli’s estate is still being worked through, no monetary damages have been settled on yet.
“There’s no amount of money, there’s no charges that can be brought against this person that’s ever going to make our hearts whole again,” Aaron Babbitt said.
Babbitt describes the last several months as hectic. He’s still running their family business and sorting through the next steps to find justice for his wife.
“Maybe in the end I can look back on it and say, ‘That was good,’ because I don’t really have much time to sit and dwell,” he said.
Babbitt says their legal team has started a Twitter account for the public to follow any developments in the lawsuit at twitter.com/ForAshli.