Judicial Watch announced on Wednesday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice seeking records related to the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol Building
Babbitt was shot and killed as she climbed through a broken interior window in the United State Capitol. She was unarmed, and a 14-year Air Force veteran. The identity of the shooter was kept secret by Congress as well as federal and local authorities for eight months until U.S. Capitol Police officer Michael Byrd went public to try to defend his killing of Ms. Babbitt.
On April 14, 2021, the Justice Department issued a press release stating: “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges against the U.S. Capitol Police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, the Office announced today.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, the Civil Rights Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (all components of the Justice Department) failed to provide the records responsive to Judicial Watch’s April 14, 2021 and May 20, 2021, FOIA requests (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice) (No. 1:21-cv-02462)) for:
- All records, including but not limited to, investigative reports, photographs, witness statements, dispatch logs, schematics, ballistics, and video footage, concerning the January 6, 2021 death of Ashli Babbitt in the Capitol Building.
- All draft and final prosecution declination memoranda related to the death of Ashli Babbitt.
- All Office of the US Attorney for the District of Columbia officials’ electronic communications concerning Ashli Babbitt and the investigation of her death.
- All DOJ Civil Rights Division officials’ electronic communications concerning Ashli Babbitt and the investigation of her death.
- All FBI officials’ electronic communications concerning Ashli Babbitt and the investigation of her death. The time frame for the requested records is January 6, 2021 to the present.
“The illicit secrecy and stonewalling on the police killing of Ashli Babbitt is obviously political and undermines the rule of law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
The lawsuit is part of Judicial Watch’s ongoing investigation into the death of Babbitt and the January 6 disturbance.
Earlier this month, the District of Columbia asked a court for an additional delay to respond to Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records related to the U.S. Capitol Police shooting death of Ashli Babbitt on January 6. 2001.
Judicial Watch recently filed a motion for discovery in its lawsuit against the United States Capitol Police (USCP) for emails and videos concerning the disturbance at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The Capitol Police are trying to shut down the lawsuit by arguing that the requested records are “not public records.”
On August 3, Judicial Watch announced that it obtained new documents showing the Washington, D.C. Medical Examiner submitted a request to cremate Babbitt two days after gaining custody of her body. The documents also showed that Babbitt’s fingerprints were emailed to a person supposedly working for the D.C. government, which resulted in Microsoft “undeliverable” messages written in Chinese characters being returned.
Also in August, Judicial Watch uncovered records related to the death of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick which show major media representatives pressuring the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) of the District of Columbia over its conclusion that Officer Sicknick had died of natural causes.
In July, Judicial Watch announced a lawsuit against the FBI for records of communication between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and several financial institutions about the reported transfer of financial transactions made by people in DC, Maryland and Virginia on January 5 and January 6, 2021. The FBI has refused to confirm or deny the existence of any such records.
In May, Judicial Watch sued both the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense for records regarding the deployment of armed forces around the Capitol complex in Washington, D.C., in January and February of 2021.
Judicial Watch also filed a lawsuit for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s communications with the Pentagon in the days after the January 6 incident.