There are those who think that the so-called riot or so-called insurrection in the Capitol last January justified the killing of Ashli Babbitt, the Air Force veteran who was shot dead by a still-unidentified Capitol police officer during the melee.
Not so! The power to use deadly force is strictly limited, even if the event was in fact a “riot” or an “insurrection” rather than simply a protest that got out of hand.
The killer’s lawyer, Mark Schamel, understands that, even if journalists within the mainstream media do not. He stated, “Lethal force is appropriate if the situation puts you or others in fear of imminent bodily harm.”
Well, except for the fact that what Schamel stated is not correct. The test for the use of deadly force is not whether the police officer is in fear of imminent bodily harm. The test is whether the officer reasonably believes that the subject poses a significant threat of serious bodily injury or death to the officer or others.
In other words, just because a police officer is scared that someone might do harm to him is not enough, under the law, to justify his killing the person. The police officer must reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
It is undisputed that Ashli Babbit was unarmed. In fact, it is also undisputed that during this so-called riot or so-called insurrection, none of the Capitol protestors were shooting anyone.
Light jail sentences
Federal Judge Randolph Moss seems to get that. That’s got to be the reason he meted out an 8-month jail sentence to Paul Hodgins, another Capitol protestor, for participating in the melee. Isn’t that a rather light sentence for someone who participated in what the mainstream media continues to call a “riot,” an “insurrection,” and a “grave assault on democracy”? Don’t some people who get convicted of DUI receive higher jail sentences than that?
Why, even federal prosecutors were recommending to the judge to give Hodgins no more than a 15-21 month sentence. Interestingly, at sentencing federal prosecutors compared Hodgins’ conduct to that of a “domestic terrorist.” Yet, there was a problem with that theory: They didn’t charge him with domestic terrorism. Did they just forget to do so?
According to the CBSNews.com, “So far, nearly 20 Capitol rioters have entered guilty pleas, and two have been sentenced for misdemeanor crimes: one, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, was sentenced to three years probation and no jail time, and another, Michael Curzio, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, although the courts credited him for the nearly six months he had already spent incarcerated as he waited for the courts to hear his case.”
What? How in the world can participating in a “riot” (or an “insurrection” or a “grave assault on democracy) be only a misdemeanor rather than a felony? How can “rioters” and “insurrectionists” and “grave assaulters on democracy” be receiving probation or extremely light jail sentences?
Where is Robert Mueller when we need him? He clearly should be summoned out of retirement to help these federal prosecutors and federal judges understand how serious this “riot,” “insurrection,” and “grave assault on democracy” really was.
Secrecy vs transparency
A video of the Ashli Babbitt killing proves that the protestors weren’t killing anyone. In fact, there were Capitol police on the protestors’ side of the door who were guarding the door that the protestors were trying to bash down. No one touched those police officers. Since the door was made of glass, it is a virtual certainty that Ashli Babbitt’s killer saw those police officers and the fact that Babbitt and the other protestors were doing nothing to harm them.
So, what caused that still-unidentified Capitol police officer to kill Ashli Babbitt? Did he mistakenly think he saw a gun in her hand? Given that she hadn’t even broken through the door, what caused him to think that he was in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death? Did he simply get scared and decide to shoot? What was his level of training? Was he a newbie Capitol police officer? Had he received adequate training on the use of deadly force? Did he have a misunderstanding with respect to when he was authorized to use deadly force?
We don’t know the answers to these questions because the killer’s version of events is still shrouded in secrecy. We know that federal prosecutors have exonerated him but that’s no big surprise. What’s necessary is transparency. For one thing, there is absolutely no reason to keep the killer’s identity secret. Just because a police officer might be scared of retaliation for killing a citizen is no reason to keep his identity and his version of events secret. The criminal justice system doesn’t operate like that. Police work is inherently dangerous business. If people don’t want to incur that danger, then they shouldn’t become police officers. To use danger surrounding police work to shroud a police killing of a citizen in secrecy is totally illegitimate. Justice demands full transparency of all matters relating to Ashli Babbitt’s killing.
As more facts have come out about Ashli Babbitt and her life, one thing has become painfully clear: This 35-year-old wife and mother would never have threatened that still-unidentified police officer or anyone else with serious bodily injury or death. Therefore, the obvious question arises: What caused that still-unidentified police officer to kill Ashli Babbitt? Her family has a right to know. So do the American people.