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Shooting of Ashli Babbit
Part of Law enforcement response to the 2021 United States Capitol attack
DateJanuary 6, 2021
Time2:44 pm (UTC-5)
LocationUnited States Capitol, Washington, D.C., U.S.
Coordinates38°53′23″N 77°00′40″W / 38.88972°N 77.01111°W / 38.88972; -77.01111Coordinates: 38°53′23″N 77°00′40″W / 38.88972°N 77.01111°W / 38.88972; -77.01111
TypeKilling by a law enforcement officer
CauseDeadly force used while guarding the access to the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives
DeathsAshli Babbitt
ChargesNone

On January 6, 2021, during the United States Capitol attack, one of the rioters, Ashli Babbitt, was fatally shot by Capitol Police officer Michael Byrd as she was breaching a barricaded entrance leading to the Speaker's Lobby, where members of the United States House of Representatives were being evacuated.[1][2][3][4]

In an August 26, 2021 interview, Capitol Police officer Byrd publicly identified himself as the officer that fired the single fatal shot at Babbitt. The shooting was investigated and deemed to be "lawful and within Department policy", and Officer Byrd was officially cleared of any wrongdoing.

Ashli Babbitt

Ashli Babbitt enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2004, serving twelve years; from 2010, she served in the Air National Guard. Babbitt had reportedly been deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar. She reached the rank of senior airman.[5][6][7]

Babbitt was a supporter of Donald Trump,[8] and a follower of conspiracy theorist L. Lin Wood. Prior to her arrival at the Capitol, Babbitt retweeted calls by Wood for the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts to resign and accused Vice President Mike Pence of treason, under the Twitter handle @CommonAshSense.[9][10] On January 5th, 2021, the day before the assault on the Capitol, Babbitt retweeted:

"Nothing can stop us....they can try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours....dark to light...."[11]

"The Storm" is a term used by QAnon, a right-wing conspiracy theory that believes that a cabal of Satanic,[12][13] cannibalistic pedophiles operate a global child sex trafficking ring that conspired against the former U.S. President Donald Trump during his term in office.[12][13][14][15] Experts have described QAnon as a cult.[16] A central belief among QAnon members is that Trump was planning a massive sting operation on the cabal, with mass arrests of thousands of cabal members to take place on a day known as the "Storm".[17][18] Babbitt was a follower of QAnon. [19][20]

Events

Capitol attack

Further information: Timeline of the 2021 United States Capitol attack and Law enforcement response to the 2021 United States Capitol attack

Starting in December, Trump repeatedly encouraged his supporters to protest in Washington, D.C., on January 6 in support of his campaign to overturn the election results,[21] telling his supporters to "Be there, will be wild!"[22] The Washington Post editorial board criticized Trump for urging street protests, referring to previous violence by some Trump supporters at two earlier rallies and his earlier statement during a presidential debate telling the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by."[23] Multiple groups of "die-hard" Trump supporters staged rallies in Washington on that day: Women for America First; the Eighty Percent Coalition (also at Freedom Plaza) (the group's name refers to the belief that approximately 80% of Trump voters do not accept the legitimacy of Biden's win); and "The Silent Majority" (a group organized by a South Carolina conservative activist).[21][24] George Papadopoulos and Roger Stone, ardent allies of Trump, headlined some of the events. In addition to the formally organized events, the Proud Boys, other far-right groups, and white supremacists vowed to descend on Washington on January 6, with some threatening violence and pledging to carry weapons.[21] Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio said that his followers would "be incognito" and would "spread across downtown DC in smaller teams."[24]

As the certification process was underway, Trump gave a speech encouraging his supporters to march to the Capitol. Many of them did, whereupon they joined other protesters already gathered in the area and violently breached and stormed the Capitol, eventually entering the Senate chamber as well as numerous offices. The Congressional proceedings were suspended, the legislators were taken to secure locations, and Pence and later Pelosi were evacuated.[25]

Rioters occupied the empty Senate chamber while federal law enforcement officers defended the evacuated House floor.[26][27]

Attempted breach of the Speaker's Lobby and shooting

At 2:44 p.m., law enforcement was trying to "defend two fronts" to the House Chamber, and "a lot of members [of Congress] and staff that were in danger at the time".[28][29] Pipe bombs had been discovered and Capitol Police officers had been warned that many attackers were carrying concealed weapons.[30]

Three uniformed officers were posted outside the Speaker's Lobby, adjacent to the House chambers, where they were threatened by a crowd of rioters. One member of the mob yelled "Fuck the Blue" (blue in this case referring to the blue color of the uniforms of many police departments). One officer guarding the door told the others "They're ready to roll", and the three officers moved away from the door.[1] No longer impeded by police, one rioter, Zachary Jordan Alam, smashed a glass window leading to the Speaker's Lobby.[31][32] Babbitt was warned not to proceed through the window: one witness recalled that "A number of police and Secret Service were saying 'Get back! Get down! Get out of the way!'; [Babbitt] didn't heed the call."[33]

As lawmakers were being evacuated by Capitol Police, Babbitt attempted to climb through a shattered window in a barricaded door and was shot in the neck/shoulder by Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd. Babbitt died from the wound.[34][35][36][37]

Republican Representative Markwayne Mullin, a witness to Babbit's attempted breach, said that the Capitol Police "didn't have a choice" but to shoot, and that this action "saved people's lives".[28][38]

The shooting was recorded on several cameras, and footage was widely circulated.[39] John Earle Sullivan, who recorded footage of the shooting, was arrested for his role in the attack.[40]

Aftermath

Reactions

Far-right extremists,[41] right-wing media,[42] and Republican Members of Congress[43] have attempted to cast Babbitt as a martyr and a patriot. These efforts have been compared to the Nazi glorification of Horst Wessel by David Frum in The Atlantic.[44][45] Former president Trump recorded a video message arguing that "There was no reason Ashli should've lost her life that day. We must all demand justice for Ashli and her family".[46][47][48] Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the shooting of Babbitt, describing it as an "assassination".[49]

Investigation

Following the routine process for shootings by Capitol Police officers, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia and the United States Department of Justice investigated Babbitt's death and made a determination that the shooting was "lawful and within Department policy".[31][50][51][52] After being cleared of wrongdoing, the officer who shot Babbitt identified himself in an interview for NBC News as Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd.[53][54][55][56][57] He said his name had been previously revealed in right-wing media and online forums and he had received racist and violent threats.[58]

References

  1. ^ a b Swaine, Jon; Bennett, Dalton; Lee, Joyce Sohyun; Kelly, Meg (January 8, 2021). "Video shows fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt in the Capitol". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 17, 2021.
  2. ^ Ellen Barry, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Dave Philipps (January 8, 2021). "Woman Killed in Capitol Embraced Trump and QAnon". New York Times.
  3. ^ Italiano, Laura (January 7, 2021). "Video shows the moment Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot in Capitol". New York Post (in American English). Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  4. ^ "Protester Shot and Killed Inside U.S. Capitol Was From Ocean Beach". Times of San Diego. January 7, 2021. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  5. ^ Figueroa, Teri; Riggins, Alex. "Family says woman fatally shot in U.S. Capitol was Ocean Beach resident". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  6. ^ Losey, Stephen (January 7, 2021). "Woman shot and killed at Capitol was security forces airman, QAnon adherent". Air Force Times.
  7. ^ Mitchell, Ellen (January 7, 2021). "Woman fatally shot by Capitol Police during riot was 12 year Air Force veteran". The Hill.
  8. ^ "Woman shot dead in US Capitol was Air Force veteran, Trump supporter". Straits Times. January 6, 2021.
  9. ^ Mordock, Jeff. "Woman killed at Capitol identified as Air Force veteran". Washington Times.
  10. ^ Keller, Aaron (January 6, 2021). "Pro-Trump Woman Shot and Killed at U.S. Capitol Retweeted Attorney Lin Wood's 'Must Be Done' List Before She Died". Law & Crime. A Twitter account linked to Babbitt, which was reviewed extensively by Law&Crime Wednesday night, indicates that Babbitt was a staunch QAnon adherent who retweeted dozens of conspiracy-theory-laden missives originally posted by Georgia attorney L. Lin Wood.
  11. ^ "Woman killed in siege of U.S. Capitol was veteran who embraced conspiracy theories". Reuters.
  12. ^ a b Bracewell, Lorna (January 21, 2021). "Gender, Populism, and the QAnon Conspiracy Movement". Frontiers in Sociology. Frontiers Media. 5: 615727. doi:10.3389/fsoc.2020.615727. ISSN 2297-7775. PMC 8022489. PMID 33869533. S2CID 231654586.
  13. ^ a b Crossley, James (September 2021). "The Apocalypse and Political Discourse in an Age of COVID". Journal for the Study of the New Testament. SAGE Publications. 44 (1): 93–111. doi:10.1177/0142064X211025464. ISSN 1745-5294. S2CID 237329082.
  14. ^ Kunzelman, Michael; Slevin, Colleen (February 9, 2020). "'QAnon' conspiracy theory creeps into mainstream politics". Associated Press. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  15. ^ "QAnon: The conspiracy theory embraced by Trump, several politicians, and some American moms". Vox. October 9, 2020. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  16. ^ Description of QAnon as a cult:
  17. ^ Rozsa, Matthew (August 18, 2019). "QAnon is the conspiracy theory that won't die". Salon. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  18. ^ Spring, Marianna; Wendling, Mike (September 3, 2020). "The link between Covid-19 myths and QAnon". BBC News. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  19. ^ Beckett, Lois; Ho, Vivian (January 9, 2021). "'She was deep into it': Ashli Babbitt, killed in Capitol riot, was devoted conspiracy theorist". The Guardian. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021.
  20. ^ "Ashli Babbitt, Trump Supporter Killed In Capitol Riot, Was QAnon Believer Who Tweeted 'The Storm Is Here'". Inquisitr. January 7, 2021. Ashli Babbitt tweeted “the storm is here” ahead of a violent protest
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  22. ^ Shaw, Adam (December 19, 2020). "Trump promises 'wild' protest in Washington DC on Jan 6, claims it's 'impossible' he lost". Fox News. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  23. ^ Editorial Board (December 30, 2020). "Trump is inciting chaos on Jan. 6, both in and outside the Capitol". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 5, 2021. ((cite news)): |author= has generic name (help)
  24. ^ a b Jackson, David; Brown, Matthew (January 2, 2021). "'Wild' protests: Police brace for pro-Trump rallies when Congress meets Jan 6 to certify Biden's win". USA Today. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  25. ^ Feldman, Josh (January 6, 2021). "Trump Supporters Breach Capitol Building as Violent Clashes Continue". Mediaite. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
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  32. ^ Don Parker (March 11, 2021). "DC-area man indicted. He was standing next to Ashli Babbitt when she was shot in Capitol". WJLA-TV.
  33. ^ "'It could have been me but she went in first' Pro-Trump rioter saw woman shot in Capitol". WUSA9. Retrieved April 25, 2021 – via YouTube.
  34. ^ Swaine, Jon; Bennett, Dalton; Sohyun Lee, Joyce; Kelly, Meg (January 8, 2021). "Video shows fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt in the Capitol". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 8, 2021. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  35. ^ Wagner, Dennis; Daniels, Melissa; Hauck, Grace (January 7, 2021). "California woman killed during Capitol riot was a military veteran and staunch Trump supporter". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 15, 2021. Retrieved January 24, 2021. Babbitt served in the Air Force under the married name of Ashli Elizabeth McEntee ... she had been a staunch Trump supporter
  36. ^ "Capitol riots: A visual guide to the storming of Congress". BBC news. January 7, 2021. Archived from the original on January 7, 2021. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
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  38. ^ Melendez, Pilar; Bredderman, William; Montgomery, Blake (January 8, 2021). "'Didn't Have a Choice': Vet Was Climbing Through Broken Window When She Was Shot Dead". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 17, 2021.
  39. ^ Wagner, Dennis; Daniels, Melissa; Hauck, Grace (January 7, 2021). "California woman killed during Capitol riot was a military veteran and staunch Trump supporter". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 15, 2021. Retrieved January 24, 2021. Babbitt served in the Air Force under the married name of Ashli Elizabeth McEntee ... she had been a staunch Trump supporter
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  42. ^ Tucker: Jan. 6 was not a terrorist attack
  43. ^ The slow-building conservative effort to turn Ashli Babbitt into a martyr
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