Is it permissible to ask … if the Capitol Police special agent who shot Ashli Babbitt was white, would we know pretty much everything about him by now?February 26, 2021
All told, seven people died in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6. But only Ashli Babbitt’s death was directly caused by violence that day. She was a rioter killed by a Capitol Police officer, who fired the only shot by any person during the 4½-hour siege. Yet the story of who he is and why he opened fire remains shrouded in mystery.
More than six weeks after Babbitt succumbed to a single gunshot wound to the upper chest, authorities are keeping secret the identity of the officer who fired the fatal round. They won’t release his name, and the major news media aren’t clamoring for it, in stark contrast to other high-profile police shootings of unarmed civilians.
The officer who opened fire on Babbitt holds the rank of lieutenant and is a longtime veteran of the force who worked protective detail in the Speaker’s Lobby, a highly restricted area behind the House chamber, sources say. An African-American, he was put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation led by the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia, which shares jurisdiction with the Capitol Police.
From the Daily Beast, Jan. 7, 2021: Officer Who Killed Ashli Babbitt, Air Force Vet in Capitol Riot, ‘Didn’t Have a Choice,’ GOP Lawmaker Says.
The U.S. Capitol Police officer who killed an Air Force vet when a mob stormed the beacon of democracy on Wednesday “didn’t have a choice at that time,” a GOP lawmaker who witnessed the shooting said Thursday. “They were trying to come through the front door, which is where I was at in the chamber, and in the back they were trying to come through the speaker’s lobby, and that’s problematic when you’re trying to defend two fronts,” Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said on Good Morning America. “When they broke the glass in the back, the [police] lieutenant that was there—him and I already had multiple conversations prior to this—and he didn’t have a choice at that time.
The Black Activist Who Filmed Ashli Babbitt Shooting Speaks Out: “I don’t think she deserved to die.”
I knew that this was going to be the only record of how she would have died. Because I knew she was going to die. The guy who was pointing a gun at her was leaning with an intent to shoot; he was not playing. There’s difference between holding a gun up and warning somebody versus, like, really leaning into it. I was like, all right, I’m going to show the world why she died. And I’m not going to let her death go in vain. Because I didn’t think that she deserved to die. She didn’t have a weapon. She didn’t have anything.
Apparently, a good deal of latitude is extended to the police in matters of deadly force, as reported in this article at Vox.com by German Lopez: Police can use deadly force if they merely perceive a threat.
Legally, what most matters in these shootings is whether police officers reasonably believed that their or others’ lives were in danger, not whether the shooting victim actually posed a threat.
The key to both the legal standards — defense of life and fleeing a violent felony — is that it doesn’t matter whether there is an actual threat when force is used. Instead, what matters is the officer’s “objectively reasonable” belief that there is a threat.
Color me “CONCERNED” at this point. As this document from the Eighth United Nations Congress entitled, Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, states…
Under international law, police officers should only ever use lethal force as a last resort.
Back to Rep. Markwayne Mullin’s statement: “He didn’t have a choice.”
For over two decades, there has been a constant debate over the excessive use of force by police. Ever since the 1992 Los Angeles riots, millions of words have been written questioning whether or not “that shot” should have been taken. The question, “Was there another choice” has been a common theme time after time.
BBC News, Washington DC: Are US police too quick to shoot knife-wielding suspects?
A series of highly publicised police shootings have drawn national attention to so-called officer-involved shootings, but the vast majority of police officers in the US still have little or no training in how to recognise and engage with a suspect suffering from a mental health crisis, or de-escalate a threat from a knife without resorting to a gun.
The officer’s state of mind is prepared long before the incident ever occurs, as revealed by this article at The Atlantic, How Police Training Contributes to Avoidable Deaths.
In most police shootings, officers don’t shoot out of anger or frustration or hatred. They shoot because they are afraid. And they are afraid because they are constantly barraged with the message that that they should be afraid, that their survival depends on it. Not only do officers hear it in formal training, they also hear it informally from supervisors and older officers. They talk about it with their peers. They see it on police forums and law enforcement publications. For example, three of the four stories mentioned on the cover of this month’s Police Magazine are about dealing with threats to officer safety.
Officers must also be trained to think beyond the gun-belt. The pepper spray, baton, Taser, and gun that are so easily accessible to officers are meant to be tools of last resort, to be used when non-violent tactics fail or aren’t an option. By changing officer training, agencies could start to shift the culture of policing away from the “frontal assault” mindset and toward an approach that emphasizes preserving the lives that officers are charged with protecting.
Will we ever have an understandable explanation about the killing of Ashli Babbitt?
The New York Post answered that question on February 1, 2021…
The Capitol police officer who shot a woman attempting to breach the speaker’s lobby during the Capitol Hill riot is reportedly not likely to face charges after a preliminary decision by investigators in the case.