The strange case of Ashli Babbitt and the unknown Capitol Police Officer who killed her

Air Force Veteran Ashli Babbitt was the only person killed at the Capitol attack by gunshot wound, but over five months later, we still don’t know the real circumstances of her death or the name of the police officer who killed her.  Her family is now demanding answers as speculation and rumors abound.  Should the officer even have been on duty on January 6?  Why is the government refusing to release the video footage?  Are other rioters still held in solitary confinement?

Note from the author: After posting, a reader brought to my attention that there is video of the shooting. As a result, we do know the number of shots fired and that there was no altercation prior to the shooting. The rest of the post below remains unaffected by the video.

On January 6, former Air Force veteran, Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed while breaking and entering the Capitol building.  Based on the little we know about the incident, she was part of the mob that had illegally entered the Capital grounds; the “insurrection” in the common media parlance.  Reports suggest that Ms. Babbitt was entering the building through a broken window that led into the Speaker’s lobby outside the main House Chamber when she was shot by a Capitol Police Officer.  She was taken from the scene to a local hospital in critical condition where she ultimately succumbed to her injuries.

Incredibly, that is all we know, or at least think we know, over five months after the incident.  As far as we can tell, none of these details is officially confirmed, except for the fact that Ms. Babbitt was shot and killed, she appears to have been unarmed, and a Capitol Police Officer appears to be involved.  We do not know the name of the officer, whether any altercation occurred, why he fired on her, exactly what she was doing when he fired on her, how many times he fired his weapon, etc.  The Department of Justice insists the Metropolitan Police conducted a “thorough investigation,” but no further details have been released other than their decision not to prosecute the officer.  According to the Department of Justice, “officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.”

The facts of the matter are important for at least three reasons.

First, when was the last time the authorities refused to release the name of an officer involved in the shooting of an unarmed civilian and when was the last time the mainstream media accepted this refusal without complaint?  Imagine if this were the shooting of an unarmed black man or woman, do you think The Washington Post would simply state “U.S. Capitol Police officer cleared of wrongdoing,” and not ask any more questions?  Of course not, shooting incidents that involve a police officer are always subject to demands for more information, the release of any bodycam video, details on the officer’s previous history, and more, for obvious reasons.  This time, however, we have pretty much complete silence from the mainstream media outside of certain programs on Fox News.

Second, as far as we are aware, Ashli Babbitt is the only person involved in the Capitol “insurrection” that was killed by intentional force.  Despite initial reports that Officer Brian Sicknick was attacked with a fire extinguisher, Ms. Babbitt remains the lone victim of actual violence and it appears she lost her life at the hands of the government.  This matters a lot when the riot, despicable as it surely was, is usually characterized as an “armed insurrection” in the media and by Democrat politicians.  It’s not much of an insurrection if the only person shot was one of the rioters and that at the hands of the police.  The details are therefore important to understanding what really happened that day, both in terms of the actual events on the ground and also the broader narratives of some Q-led conspiracy to topple the Federal Government.

Third, government secrecy necessarily breeds suspicion and provides fertile ground for speculation if not actual conspiracy theories.  For example, there are rumors the officer involved in Ms. Babbitt’s shooting accidently left his handgun in a public bathroom in the Capitol building itself.  This incident was supposed to have occurred in 2019, but no one knows for sure.  Oddly, media sources seem to know the name of the officer in this 2019 bathroom incident, just not whether or not they are the same person.  How that is possible is beyond me.  What we do know is that the Babbitt family lawyer is questioning how the officer was able to keep his job, though we can’t count on lawyers to tell the truth either.  Speculation like this would be irrelevant if we knew the name of the officer.

This is doubly true when the name of the officer isn’t the only thing the government is keeping hidden.  There are thousands of hours of security footage from inside the Capitol building that have yet to be released for completely unspecified reasons.  In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the media was flush with footage.  The Guardian reported on “Five shocking videos,” The New York Times described “Previously Unseen Video,” CNN claimed the videos show “extreme levels of coordination.”  Since then, however, silence as hours upon hours more video remain unreleased.

Once again, this is leading to rumor and speculation.  For example, one of the videos released several months after the incident, shows the rioters speaking to the police while inside the Capitol.  According to Factcheck,org, the video shows a “police officer, identified as Keith Robishaw, engaging with a group of protesters — who, we note, are shown already inside the Capitol building…The clip shows a man telling fellow protesters that ‘police here are willing to work with us and cooperate peacefully like our First Amendment allows,’ and encourages the group to be peaceful. It soon moves to Robishaw urging the protesters to remain calm. ‘We’re not against … you need to show … then show us, no attacking, no assault, remain calm,’ Robishaw can be heard saying.”

Conservatives believe the video is proof that at least some of rioters were allowed in by the police and were unaware they were breaking the law.  Factcheck.org says otherwise.  The Metropolitan Police say “There is no evidence of misconduct in the short video clip.  The officers are blocking the hallway and attempting to de-escalate the situation, as they are trained to, by telling the crowd to not attack or assault and to remain calm.”  Factcheck.org also points out that, regardless of what this video shows, other footage show the rioters violently engaging with officers.  This isn’t an either or proposition though.  There could be some subset of those who broke in and another who were waved in, something we have all likely seen on video, and, once again, we would know the truth if the government were being more transparent.

This is triply true when the government appears to be holding numerous Capitol Hill suspects in solitary confinement without bail, over 5 months after the incident.  According to The Daily Mail, “The suspects are held in solitary confinement in cells the ‘size of a walk-in closets’ for up 24 hours a day and treated like ‘domestic terrorists’ by jail guards after several law enforcement officers were injured and killed during the January 6 violence at the Capitol, lawyer Joseph McBride said.”  The lawyer also added it was like Guantanamo Bay without the fine cuisine.

Republican lawmakers are starting to take notice.  Senator Ron Johnson warned of an “unequal administration of justice” because BLM protestors and rioters have often been released on their own recognizance immediately after their arrest.  Senator Johnson joined four of his colleagues in sending a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “During the spring and summer of 2020, individuals used peaceful protests across the country to engage in rioting and other crimes that resulted in loss of life, injuries to law enforcement officers, and significant property damage,” the letter says. “Despite these numerous examples of violence occurring during these protests, it appears that individuals charged with committing crimes at these events may benefit from infrequent prosecutions and minimal, if any, penalties.  DOJ’s apparent unwillingness to punish these individuals who allegedly committed crimes during the spring and summer 2020 protests stands in stark contrast to the harsher treatment of the individuals charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.”

Ultimately, far more questions abound than answers.  Why not release the name of the shooter?  Why not publish more of the video?  Why not provide more transparency on why US citizens are being held indefinitely in solitary confinement?  Why is the government acting like this in this situation and no other I can think of?  Why does the media, the ACLU, and other progressive groups that purport to be appalled at threats to our democracy and democratic norms, now not seem to care at all about any of this?

Alas, I don’t have any answers. I just know the situation is rather strange and Ms. Babbitt’s family has had enough. They are suing the Metropolitan Police Department to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting.  Appearing on Tucker Carlson Tonight with his attorney earlier this week, Aaron Babbitt claimed, “Somebody in D.C. knows, I think a lot of people know, but nobody is telling us. And the silence is deafening.”  “I never expected to lose my wife to political violence,” he added.  Take it for what it’s worth coming from her widow, but Mr. Babbitt insists his wife has been completely mischaracterized.  “There has never been a person Ashli ran across in her daily life that didn’t love her and wouldn’t remember her in some way, shape or form for the rest of her life,” he said. “But this is the game. This is the social media craziness that people just run with a theory and just take off with it. You know, it is up to us and the ones that love her and people like you for not giving up on it.”

His lawyer is also formulating theories of his own. “I think one of the reasons they are hiding his identity, they don’t have a good reason for this shooting,” he said. “I think if Ashli Babbitt had been brandishing a firearm and she was shot here the officer would be identified by now and pinning a medal on him. So I don’t think we have an explanation for the shooting and why they have not identified [the officer responsible.]”

While this certainly sounds reasonable to me, there is no reason we are still speculating about it.  The government should simply tell us what happened.  Why does that seem like too much to ask for these days?

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