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The family of the California woman fatally shot during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is reportedly planning to file a multi-million wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. Capitol Police. Their attorney told various media outlets that the family is planning on suing the department and the officer who fired the fatal shot at her for at least $10 million.
As reported by WUSA9, family members reportedly said Ashli Babitt was “fanatical” about loving her country and trying to get former President Donald Trump reelected. Her uncle said she traveled to D.C. on Jan. 6 because she “thought she could influence whatever was happening in Washington that day.”
However, as we now know, a different outcome unfolded. Video captured during the Capitol riot showed Babbitt among the mob trying to break into the Speaker’s Lobby outside the U.S. House of Representatives. She was ultimately shot in the shoulder by a Capitol Police officer when she attempted to climb through a broken window to an area where police had barricaded themselves. She was pronounced dead a short time later.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced it would not pursue charges against the officer who shot Babbitt, saying there was insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution. The Justice Department reportedly said: “Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber.”
The Babbitt’s family attorney, however, pushed back on the Justice Department’s decision, saying it “plainly glosses over” the facts. “The actual evidence is this: The officer showed an unarmed woman who was not an immediate threat to him or any Member of Congress,” he said. “That is inconsistent with any claim of self-defense or the defense of others, period.”
In addition to being outspoken about her support for former President Donald Trump, Babbitt was reportedly also a follower of the fair-right QAnon conspiracy theory. A day before the riot, she reportedly tweeted: “Nothing will stop us. They can try and try and try but the storm is here.” As reported by WUSA9, the “storm” in question is a central theme of the QAnon conspiracy that claims that Trump was eventually going to conduct mass arrests of the pedophilic, Satanic child sex-trafficking ring that secretly runs the U.S. government.
Babbitt wasn’t alone among Capitol rioters drawn in by the QAnon conspiracy. Photos from January 6 show dozens of “QAnon” and “We are the Storm” signs and shirts in the crowd.
A Trump supporter who thought the Capitol riot went too far reportedly told WUSA9: “It’s just a sad story because people are going to take her and make her a martyr and that incident will radicalize other people.”
In California, in order to win a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff will have to prove that the negligence or reckless actions of the defendant caused the death in question and that the surviving family members have suffered financially and emotionally. The plaintiff must provide convincing evidence to the jury that there was a connection between the negligent act and the cause of death. If they are successful in doing so, then the allegations against the defendant would be considered more likely to be true than not true, which will result in the plaintiff recovering damages.
If a plaintiff is unable to convince the jury that the allegations they are claiming are true, then the defendant will be successful in the case even without having to present their evidence.