On October 10, 2020, Ashli Babbitt celebrated her thirty fifth birthday.
Three months later, she set off for Washington D.C. and joined an estimated tens of 1000’s of like-minded Trump supporters at a rally protesting what they see as a “stolen election.”
Not lengthy after a photograph of Ashli Babbit draped in a pro-Trump marketing campaign cape was taken, she marched to the U.S. Capitol the place Congress was certifying the 2020 election outcomes.
There, unarmed and nonetheless carrying the cape, Babbitt began to climb by way of a damaged window and was shot lifeless by a plainclothes Capitol Police lieutenant.
Terrell Roberts: She’s not brandishing a weapon, so he is taking pictures an unarmed particular person who isn’t assaulting him or threatening him.
Lawyer Terry Roberts represents Babbitt’s husband, Aaron.
Sharyl: A prevailing sentiment that I’ve learn is, these had been insurrectionists who had been going to threaten folks’s lives they usually deserved, or she deserved what she acquired.
Terrell Roberts: So for somebody to say, “Properly, she acquired what she deserved.” with out understanding what the legislation is, isn’t an knowledgeable resolution, I’d say. If this case occurred out in Minneapolis or another place, and it wasn’t politically charged, I feel that most individuals would see this as an apparent case of extreme drive.
Paradoxically, the clearest video of the taking pictures was recorded by John Sullivan, an activist who spoke at a Black Lives Matter rally in Washington DC final August, the place he inspired an insurgency in opposition to President Trump.
Months after that speech, Sullivan says he masqueraded as a Trump supporter on the January rally, and recorded the chaos contained in the Capitol.
Terrell Roberts: We now have that video. Ashli Babbitt is part of that crowd. Then you may see some people, they do get bodily. They begin to hit the door, break a few of the home windows. There are three officers current at that time. And so they transfer out of the way in which.
Sharyl: Would a part of your case be determining why the law enforcement officials on Ashli Babbitt’s facet of the door and the SWAT crew didn’t transfer to maintain the gang from climbing by way of or attempting to enter?
Terrell Roberts: You are proper. That is precisely what we’ll attempt to discover out, why that was. We’ll discover out. However it’s clear that is what they’re doing, they’re really abandoning the door, and it is an fascinating truth of the case. And at that time, one of many facet home windows to the door is knocked out. SWAT officers come up the steps. It is at this level that Ashli will get up onto the ledge and he or she is shot earlier than she even steps off the ledge. On the time that this officer shoots, there is no member of Congress in that foyer. So I feel all this provides as much as a scenario the place the officer didn’t must shoot and kill the woman.
The lawyer for the Capitol Police officer declined our interview requests. I spoke with Jason Johnson, a former Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner who heads up the Legislation Enforcement Authorized Protection Fund.
Sharyl: Let’s discuss what might need been within the thoughts of the officer. What are you seeing and what’s he probably considering in that second based mostly on the knowledge he has?
Jason Johnson: I feel due to the knowledge that he seemingly has at that time about what is going on in different components of the capital complicated with officers being assaulted, subjected to chemical brokers, overwhelmed, the truth that many individuals are armed and that they’re after sure members of Congress, that that officer felt in that second, that if that entry is breached by that, that group of individuals, seemingly a number of of whom had been armed, that that will current a lethal risk to both himself, members of Congress, different Capitol law enforcement officials, different members of Congressional employees, and due to this fact believed that he was performing fairly to make use of lethal drive.
Investigators agreed. “Acknowledging the tragic lack of life and providing condolences to Ms. Babbitt’s household,” prosecutors stated there’s no proof the officer didn’t fairly imagine the deadly shot was vital “in self-defense or in protection of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the Home Chamber.”
Sharyl: We now know that prosecutors aren’t going to cost the police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt. What’s your response to that?
Terrell Roberts: Properly, to begin with, the truth that a prosecutor does not convey prices in a case doesn’t have an effect on the suitable to convey a civil motion.
Roberts says he plans to convey a go well with arguing the officer violated the constitutional rights of Babbitt, an Air Power veteran.
Among the many areas of disagreement: the officer’s lawyer says he clearly recognized himself earlier than taking pictures, and ordered the mob to not come by way of the window. Roberts says there’s no signal of that on the video.
Sharyl: How are you going to make sure within the video, significantly as a result of it was loud, that he did not situation a warning?
Terrell Roberts: We have interviewed a number of witnesses on the identical facet of the door with Ashli Babbitt. They did not hear any form of warning. I feel an affordable officer would know, given the noise on the opposite facet of the door, that something that he is saying wouldn’t be heard. In actual fact, in case you watch the video rigorously, there’s an officer in a go well with that strolls throughout the hallway on the time that he’s supposedly yelling an announcement, who does not even appear to react to that. So these are three necessary elements why we expect he did not give an announcement.
One of many strangest components of the case is the bizarre secrecy: the identify of the officer is being saved hidden. That’s attainable due to the character of the Capitol Police drive. They’re underneath the authority of Congress and—like Congress—are exempt from Freedom of Data requests. And so they don’t put on physique cameras.
Sharyl: Do you anticipate any form of racial part or sensitivities as a result of the alleged shooter is allegedly an African-American and Ashli Babbitt is white? Or was white?
Terrell Roberts: The case have to be checked out impartial of the politics, impartial of the racial data within the case. The unlucky half, although, is that individuals take it into consideration. Nonetheless, when the case will get right into a courtroom, if folks would simply put that to the facet and have a look at the case pretty, I imagine they’ll see, they’ll observe the legislation, apply the legislation pretty and attain a simply outcome.
Sharyl (on-camera): In an announcement, an lawyer for the officer insists his “bravery was nothing wanting heroic and by taking pictures and killing Babbitt, he saved the lives of numerous members of Congress and the rioters. The nation owes him a debt of gratitude.”