Family of woman shot during January 6 Capitol riot sues US government, seeking $30 million

The $30 million wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. government has been filed by the family of Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old California woman fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer during the January 6 insurrection.

Babbitt was attempting to climb through a broken door into the Speaker’s Lobby outside the House Chamber when a mob stormed the Capitol during the certification of the 2020 election results. The shooting, captured on video, resulted in Babbitt’s death at a hospital.

The family’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in Southern California, contends that Babbitt was unarmed with her hands raised when she was shot once by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd.

However, an internal investigation by Capitol Police in August 2021 concluded that Byrd had acted within department policy, violated no laws, and would not face disciplinary action. The investigation emphasized that Byrd’s actions potentially prevented serious injuries or death to members and staff.

“USCP officers had barricaded the Speaker’s Lobby with furniture before a rioter shattered the glass door. If the doors were breached, the rioters would have immediate access to the House chambers,” Capitol police said at the time. “The officer’s actions were consistent with the officer’s training and USCP policies and procedures.”

Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, had traveled to Washington, D.C., from San Diego to express her support for Trump, according to the lawsuit. It asserts that she attended independently, without any unlawful intent. The family accuses Capitol Police of assault and battery, as well as negligent use of force, among other allegations.

Nearly three years after the Capitol riot, almost 1,200 individuals have been charged, with over 700 pleading guilty. Investigators report that 140 police officers were assaulted during the events at the Capitol.

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