The Murder of Ashli Babbitt

CBS News and other outlets are reporting that Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the

District of Columbia, said that his office has started a federal, excessive force investigation over the shooting and killing of former U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt in the Capitol on Jan. 6.

According to media reports the civil rights division, not the criminal division, will lead the prosecution, which is being investigated by D.C. police and the FBI.

Ms. Babbitt attended President Trump’s January 6 rally and joined the peaceful supporters as they marched on foot to the Capitol after the President’s speech at the Ellipse. Trump thanked his supporters for being present and listed a series of voting irregularities that happened in different states, alleging there was widespread fraud. Rudy Giuliani, the president’s attorney, also gave a speech listing evidence for the alleged fraud.

Ms. Babbitt allegedly entered the Capitol building with a group of protesters, including left-wing activist John Sullivan, who was reported to have encouraged the protesters to “storm” the House Chambers.

Sullivan, who is the founder of Insurgence USA, a Leftwing social justice group that calls itself anti-fascist and protests police brutality, was detained by Washington police for about an hour and a half Thursday night and later said police questioned him about being inside the Capitol and witnessing the shooting death of Ms. Babbitt. He was not arrested; despite the claims he was one of the individuals inciting the violence.

According to reporting by KSL-TV’s Sullivan said he made his way inside the Capitol during the riot and witnessed the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt, and the Twitter account for Insurgence USA retweeted video from someone with Sullivan that shows the shooting and the aftermath.

"I have video of it," he said, describing in detail seeing the flash of the gun, the bullet strike Babbitt, and Babbitt's reaction as she died there on the floor. "I am hesitant to post it. ... It's something I have to take in. I hope that people get a grasp of that situation. Whoever shot her, maybe should be held accountable. I guess that's up to the law to decide."

Sullivan, 26, faces two criminal charges stemming from a Leftwing protest he organized in Provo, Utah last June, but nothing from his participation in the January 6 violence at the Capitol.

Charging documents say Sullivan recorded several hours of the protest and is seen in the recordings "kicking vehicles and threatening drivers" and directing protesters to block intersections.

During that protest, a Provo man, 60, was shot in the elbow after protesters blocked his vehicle. Sullivan later admitted to police that he knew who the gunman was but failed to report it to authorities, according to the charges filed against Sullivan.

The Epoch Times reported that witness Thomas Baranyi, 28, gave another account of what happened.

A reporter from CBS affiliate WKRG interviewed him after he stormed the Capitol with protestors and Ashli Babbitt, the woman who was shot and killed by police.

The reporter asked him how he got blood on his hand.

“We had stormed into the chambers inside and there was a young lady who rushed to the windows,” Baranyi answered. “A number of police and Secret Service were saying ‘get back, get down, get out of the way.’ She didn’t heed the call.”

He said that he tried to pull her back when she got fatally shot.

“And as we kind of raced up to grab people and pull them back, they shot her in the neck, and she fell back on me and started to say she was fine. It’s cool. And then she started moving weird and blood was coming out of her mouth and neck and nose,” Baranyi said.

NJ Advance Media confirmed Baranyi’s identity with three women who served with him in the Peace Corps in Albania as recently as last year. The outlet also confirmed with Baranyi’s father that the widely circulated video was of his son.

The reporter asked him if he needed first aid, to which he declined.

“I’m not injured. It could have been me, but she went in first. It was one of us.”

An emotional Baranyi asked the reporter to make this tragedy known.

“Just make sure people know, because this cannot stand anymore. This is wrong. They don’t represent anyone. Not Republican, Democrat, Independent, nobody. And now they’ll just, they’ll kill people,” Baranyi answered.

When asked who is he referring to, Baranyi answered: “Police, congressmen and women, they don’t care. I mean, they think we’re a joke. $2,000 checks was a joke to them. You know, there’s people filming us, laughing at us as we marched down the street at the Department of Justice. There’s a man in the window laughing at us, filming us. And here it was a joke to them until we got inside and then all of a sudden guns came out. But I mean, we’re at a point now, it can’t be allowed to stand. We have to do something, people have to do something, because this could be you or your kids.”

Ashli Babbitt presented no unique threat, she was unarmed, she was in a crowd of other people, why was she singled-out for death? If we are in a place where the police feel justified in firing into crowds then our country and constitutional liberty are indeed in peril.

Had the normal procedures for handling large crowds at controversial hearings been in place it is likely Ashli Babbitt and Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick would be alive today. Again, we ask, why didn’t the Capitol Police follow their usual protocols for large gatherings?

If the Democrats intend a “robust” investigation into the law enforcement breakdown, and if the U.S. Attorney for D.C. intends to indict the alleged rioters, perhaps they should start by examining why the normal procedures to ensure that the First Amendment rights of those attending the January 6 Trump march were not respected and who made the call to lockdown the Capitol in the face of a crowd that had exhibited no propensity toward violence while those rights were being honored.

George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie's worked at the U.S. Capitol complex for many years. A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he is a member of American MENSA, and served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for former Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for retired Rep. Mac Thornberry, formerly a member of the House Intelligence Committee and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

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