The Capitol Police shooting of Ashli Babbitt, who was killed during the 2021 Capitol incursion, was unjustified, according to a use-of-force expert.
Babbitt, 35, was shot by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, who was later cleared of any wrongdoing. She was shot in the left shoulder, and died at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Her death is being revisited by The Epoch Times in a documentary called “The Real Story of Jan. 6,” which is featured on Epoch TV.
The documentary includes commentary from Stan Kephart, whose credentials include more than 350 court appearances as an expert witness on police conduct, including excessive force, police discipline, officer safety, and crowd control.
“My conclusion … based on what I saw and observed in the video clips is that Ashli Babbitt was murdered,” said Kephart, who served 42 years in law enforcement and was director of security for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
“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,” Kephart said.
Kephart said that to him, nothing in the video showed Byrd should have felt in danger from Babbitt, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, who was 5-foot-2 and weighed 110-pounds.
“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, according to The Epoch Times.
“There is nothing I saw in that film that would indicate that was possible or probable from what unfolded,” he said.
Byrd’s attorney, Mark Schamel, defended Byrd, saying Kephart’s conclusion was “unsupported and erroneous.”
“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,” he said, according to The Epoch Times.
Aaron Babbitt, Ashli’s husband, said former New York City Police Commissioners Bernard Kerik and Ray Kelly have agreed with Kephart, according to The Epoch Times.
“I loved hearing that from him. He’s obviously well-versed in the use of force,” Babbitt told The Epoch Times. “He’s clearly a very smart man who has been in that business for a long time. He should be listened to.”
Babbitt disputed the claim that his late wife, who was draped in a Trump flag at the time of the shooting, “refused” verbal commands from Byrd or anyone.
“Witness testimony I’ve read, police included, said they heard no warning,” Babbitt told The Epoch Times, saying the shooting was “complete disregard for human life and not following the use-of-force continuum.”
A Department of Justice investigation found there was insufficient evidence that Byrd used excessive force when he shot and killed Babbitt.
Kephart said Byrd should have written a firearms discharge report immediately after the shooting.
Byrd, however, did not give a statement to internal affairs investigators and was never formally interviewed before he was cleared.