No Charges Likely For Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Capitol Rioter

Almost a month after the chaos of the riot that struck the U.S. Capitol on January 6, authorities are still finding themselves unraveling multiple tangled webs that unlock how the events of that day came to transpire and who should be held responsible for them.

As you might expect, part of that work involves identifying and prosecuting those who took part in the riot. But investigators are also steadily uncovering the level of coordination that went into the riot, who shares responsibility for planning and inciting it, and the reasons for delays in responding to it.

But among the ongoing investigations is one concerning a Capitol Police officer's use of force that resulted in the death of one of the rioters involved.

The early hours of the riot saw a group dressed in pro-Trump paraphernalia push through a police barricade and clash with officers at the doorway to the Speaker's Lobby at the Capitol.

According to CNN, a criminal case against one of the rioters, named Zachary Jodan Alam, alleges that he broke a window with a helmet after attempting to force his way through the glass panels of the lobby doors.

After he did this, another rioter, named Ashli Babbitt, jumped a barrier and attempted to enter the Speaker's Lobby through that window.

As The New York Times reported, it was at this point that a Capitol Police lieutenant shot her.

CNN added that she was given medical assistance and rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

In the weeks since the incident, investigators with the Metropolitan Police Department have been pursuing a federal excessive use of force investigation in Babbitt's death.

As a representative from the Justice Department told The New York Times, this is considered routine, standard procedure when an officer uses lethal force for any reason.

Dustin Sternbeck — the director of communications for the Metropolitan Police Department — has also stressed that the investigation remains ongoing and that it would be premature "to make any comment that any conclusion had been reached."

But while we're likely days away from a final decision in the matter, it doesn't appear that investigators have found any evidence of wrongdoing on the officer's part.

According to CNN, this has led them to recommend that prosecutors forgo pursuing any charges against the lieutenant.

This recommendation is apparently based on footage and witness accounts that show the lieutenant was left to confront a mob on his own.

As The New York Times reported, an officer's use of lethal force is considered legally justifiable if they had an "objectively reasonable" fear of serious harm to themselves and others.

In this case, sources who told the newspaper of the lieutenant's side of the story have expressed that it's likely he will argue that he acted to protect members of Congress from harm.

And considering some of the iconography seen during the riots, chants encouraging violence against former vice president Mike Pence, and the presence of rioters with rolls of zip ties, it's not hard to see where that suggestion comes from.

h/t: CNN, The New York Times

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