On the eve of the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, a $30 million wrongful death suit has been filed against the federal government for the Capitol Police shooting of Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt.
Washington-based Judicial Watch filed the suit on behalf of Babbitt’s estate and her husband, Aaron Babbitt, claiming 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.
The negligence lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Southern District of California.
“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.
The Justice Department probed the shooting and decided against charging Byrd.
The suit claims that Babbitt was not a threat to lawmakers and that Byrd had a soiled record 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.
The suit shared with Secrets also said he 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.
According to the suit, “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 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. 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 said Babbitt came to Washington on Jan. 6 to show support for President Donald Trump, who held a rally near the White House that day. After attending the rally, she walked to the Capitol, where former Vice President Mike Pence was to certify the election of Joe Biden.
She entered on the Senate side, the suit said, and was directed to the House chamber by another Capitol Police officer.
More about Byrd:
In 2019, Byrd left his Glock 22 pistol inside a bathroom at the Capitol Visitor’s Center and was later found during a routine security sweep of the premises. The Capitol police said an investigation would occur and “the appropriate actions will be taken in accordance with the Department’s official policies and procedures.” Byrd was back on the job a few days after the incident and allegedly told colleagues he would “be treated differently” because of his rank.
Ashli wasn’t the only one murdered by capitol cops that day. Benjamin Phillips, Kevin Greeson, and Roseanne Boyland were also killed at the hands of Lila Morris, Harry Dunn, and Aquilino Gonell. None of them were charged.