Federal investigations are being opened into two of the deaths that took place as a result of Wednesday’s incursion at the U.S. Capitol.
Ashli Babbitt was shot to death inside the Capitol, where she was part of a crowd massing outside the House chamber.
Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick was injured in a confrontation with rioters and subsequently died.
CBS reporter Catherine Herridge tweeted the developments Saturday.
“NEW: US Attorney Michael Sherwin confirms @CBSNews his office has opened a formal, federal excessive force investigation related to the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt who was shot by US Capitol Police Wednesday within the Capitol building. Sherwin has assigned his civil rights section to be the lead prosecutors for the case which is being investigat[ed] by both FBI and DC Police @DCPoliceDept. The same US Attorney’s Office has also opened a homicide investigation into the death of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick,” she wrote.
According to The Washington Post, Babbitt was shot and killed while rioters tried to break through the doors of the Speaker’s Lobby.
Babbitt sought to climb through a smashed pane of glass to enter the lobby. She was shot in the neck by a plainclothes Capitol Police officer who has not been identified. The 35-year-old Air Force veteran later died.
Babbitt was unarmed.
“The second that she climbed through the window, she got shot right in the neck area, fell backwards. I just remember the sense of shock and sorrow that somebody just died and did not need to die,” John Sullivan, a liberal activist, told CNN, according to The Post.
Deciding whether Babbitt’s shooting was justified may not be simple under the circumstances, some experts said.
“It’s going to be a very difficult justification investigation for sure. You have a situation where the entire Capitol building is overrun and officers are severely outnumbered. Did he fear for his life?” said Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired New York City Police Department detective sergeant, according to The Post.
Ron Martinelli, a retired police officer, called the shooting “problematic,” according to The Post, and said that Babbitt’s crawling through the smashed window was not necessarily license to shoot.
“Entry alone does not constitute an imminent threat to apply deadly force,” Martinelli said, according to The Post.
Graphic video of the incident has been posted to Twitter. The video may be disturbing to some viewers.
To date, no official description of Sicknick’s attack has been given.
According to a report in The New York Times, which cited “two law enforcement sources” the newspaper did not name, Sicknick, 42, was hit on the head with a fire extinguisher.
He was taken to a hospital from the scene and died Thursday.