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The estate of Jan. 6 protester Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a plainclothes Capitol Police officer on the day of the riot, has filed a $30 million lawsuit against the Biden administration for wrongful death.
The suit, filed by legal watchdog organization Judicial Watch in the U.S. District Court Southern District of California on behalf of Aaron Babbitt, Ashli’s husband, says “the officer who shot Babbitt was ‘incompetent’ and ‘dangerous’ and should have seen that the 35-year-old posed no threat to Congress when she entered the House speaker’s lobby,” Washington Examiner ‘Secrets’ columnist Paul Bedard reported on Friday.
“The only homicide on January 6 was the unlawful shooting death of Ashli Babbitt. Her homicide by Lt. (Michael) Byrd is a scandal beyond belief. This historic lawsuit seeks a measure of justice and government accountability for Ashli’s wrongful death,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
“Judicial Watch and our supporters are honored to represent Ashli’s steadfast widower Aaron Babbitt and her estate in this legal action. Ashli was shot in cold blood, and the rule of law requires justice for her,” Fitton added.
After the shooting, the Biden Justice Department investigated and cleared Byrd of any wrongdoing. But the lawsuit claims that Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who was not armed when she attempted to climb through a broken window into the House anteroom, posed no threat to anyone while citing Byrd’s soiled history of gunplay.
“For example, it claimed that Byrd once left his Glock 22, used to shoot Babbitt, in a public bathroom. It also claimed that Byrd shot into a car allegedly stolen by teenagers,” Bedard wrote.
The suit also said Byrd had his police powers suspended in the past for “failing to meet or complete semiannual firearms qualification requirements,” adding, “Lt. Byrd had a reputation among peers for not being a good shot.”
A time-stamped video released this week by a group headed by a Jan. 6 suspect showed a new angle of the shooting. In it, an unarmed Babbitt is pushed into the speaker’s lobby as Byrd raises his gun. After he shot, she fell back, bleeding from the shoulder and neck.
In seeking $30 million from the federal government, the lawsuit said Babbitt suffered horribly.
“Ashli remained conscious for minutes or longer after being shot by Lt. Byrd. Ashli experienced extreme pain, suffering, mental anguish, and intense fear before slipping into pre-terminal unconsciousness,” the suit alleges. “The autopsy report identified the cause of death as a ‘gunshot wound to left anterior shoulder’ with an onset interval of ‘minutes.’
“The fact that Ashli was alive and conscious in extreme pain and suffering is documented in videos of the shooting. Furthermore, nothing about the wound track described in the autopsy report would be expected to result in immediate death or instantaneous loss of consciousness, and Ashli’s lungs contained blood, further confirming that she was alive and breathing after being shot,” it said.
?Ashli was pronounced dead at Washington Hospital Center at 3:15 p.m. The medical examiner determined that the manner of death was homicide.”
The suit also noted that Ashli had traveled to Washington, D.C., from her home in Southern California to attend a rally and speech featuring then-President Donald Trump. Afterward, she walked to the Capitol, the suit says, and she entered via the Senate side. The suit also says she was directed to the House chamber by another Capitol Police officer.
The suit then explains:
“Lt. Byrd, who is a USCP commander and was the incident commander for the House on January 6, 2021, shot Ashli as she raised herself up into the opening of the right door sidelight. … Not one member of Congress was in the lobby, which was guarded by multiple armed police officers. Additional armed police officers were in the hallway outside the lobby and/or on the adjoining stairway.
Ashli could not have seen Lt. Byrd, who was positioned far to Ashli’s left and on the opposite side of the doors, near an opening to the Retiring Room, a distance of approximately 15 feet and an angle of approximately 160 degrees.
Sgt. Timothy Lively, one of the armed officers guarding the lobby doors from the hallway, later told officials investigating the shooting, ‘I saw him … there was no way that woman would’ve seen that.’ Lt. Byrd, who was not in uniform, did not identify himself as a police officer or otherwise make his presence known to Ashli. Lt. Byrd did not give Ashli any warnings or commands before shooting her dead.”