Was Ashli Babbitt Murdered on Jan. 6? Respected Use-of-Force Expert Says ‘Yes’

Photo of January 6th Capitol Riots by Tyler Merbler via (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en) Flickr

ANALYSIS –  I was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Not as a participant but as an observer while performing security for a foreign TV news crew. I was disgusted by those rioters who were assaulting police officers.

The next day, while arguing it wasn’t a coup or insurrection, I called the Capitol riot “ugly” and “criminal,” just like the many BLM riots that preceded it.

Based on what I knew then, I also wrote about Ashli Babbitt. The 35-year-old Air Force veteran shot inside the Capitol: “While saddened by her death, which must be investigated, she should not be turned into a martyr. She was a victim, but also a misguided perpetrator.”

I still believe she was wrong to be in the Capitol with the rioting mob but based on video and other evidence I have seen since I also now believe she is something of a martyr.

She was killed by Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd, a black officer, as she went through a broken door window into the Speaker’s Lobby.

While the Capitol Police concluded an investigation clearing Lt. Byrd, very little of the investigation has been made public. Many believe things would have been much different if a white officer had killed a black rioter.

I understand the Capitol Police locked inside were doing their duty to protect the Congressmen and staff inside from what they rightly saw as a violent mob just outside, but as more evidence of the events leading up to the shooting has become available, it is more evident that Ashli Babbitt was not violent, nor any threat.

On the contrary, a former Air Force security forces controller, she was friendly and protective of the police inside and was seen trying to calm the mob just before her death.

She also appeared to have been forced through the doorway by the pressure from the crowd behind her.

While I generally give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt in situations like this and feel for Lt. Byrd, one use-of-force expert argues that Babbitt was ‘murdered under color of authority.’

As The Epoch Times reports:

Stan Kephart, who has testified in court more than 350 times as an expert witness on policing issues, reviewed the shooting in the new Epoch TV documentary, “The Real Story of Jan. 6,” which is streaming on Epoch TV.

“My conclusion … based on what I saw and observed in the video clips is that Ashli Babbitt was murdered,” said Kephart, a 42-year veteran of law enforcement and former director of security for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. He has testified on topics that include excessive force, police discipline, officer safety, and crowd control.

“She was shot and killed under color of authority by an officer who violated not only the law but his oath and committed an arrestable offense,” he added.

Kephart said he saw nothing in the video evidence to indicate that Byrd should have felt his life was in danger or that he was at risk of serious harm from the 5-foot-2, 110-pound San Diego woman wrapped in a Trump flag.

“In order for lethal force to be authorized, the officer has to be able to articulate that he or she was in fear of losing his life, was about to be killed, or grievously injured,” Kephart said in the documentary. “There is nothing I saw in that film that would indicate that was possible or probable from what unfolded.”

As someone trained in the police use-of-force continuum, I can see Kephart’s point. But other experts have called Byrd’s actions “exemplary.”

Meanwhile, Byrd’s attorney, Mark Schamel, told The Epoch Times that Kephart’s conclusion was “unsupported and erroneous” and said the lieutenant was justified in using force.

 When Ms. Babbitt entered through the broken window and entered the inner protected area, wearing a backpack and refusing the verbal commands of multiple armed federal officers with weapons drawn, the threat she posed was clear and Lt. Byrd, as the first officer in the final line of defense, was absolutely justified in his use of force.

Like most police shootings, this is a judgment call based on what the officers reasonably feared. But the best way to gain more clarity for all those unhappy with the results and the secrecy is to have a public investigation of the shooting.

Perhaps after the GOP retakes the House in November, we can see that happen. ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - paulcrespo.substack.com - PAULCRESPO.COM

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23 days ago

Byrd is a murderer. Babbitt made no threatening actions towards him or anyone else!

23 days ago

The only persons describing this cold blooded murderer’s action as exemplary are vile communist scumbags!

22 days ago

I’m not sure a public investigation will yield anything definitive; by that time two years will have elapsed and much of the evidence could have been disappeared or doctored. It’s still worth a try.

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