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Ashli Babbitt’s family files $30 million lawsuit over Jan. 6 shooting death

The family of a 35-year-old California woman who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer during the Jan. 6 insurrection has filed a $30 million wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. government.

Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed Jan. 6, 2021, while she tried to climb through a broken door into the Speaker’s Lobby outside the House Chamber, as a mob of dozens of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol while lawmakers were preparing to certify the results of the 2020 election. The shooting was captured on cell phone video. Babbitt later died at a hospital.

In the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Southern California, Babbitt’s family claimed that she was unarmed and had her hands in the air when she was shot once by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd.

“Ashli posed no threat to the safety of anyone,” the lawsuit states, going on to claim that she was “ambushed” by the officer.

The lawsuit also argued that Byrd was “not in uniform,” “did not identify himself as a police officer” and did not issue a warning before opening fire.

However, in August of 2021, Capitol Police reported that an internal investigation had determined Byrd had acted within department policy, had violated no laws and would not be disciplined for the shooting. The investigation also found that Byrd’s actions had “potentially saved members and staff from serious injury and possible death.”

“USCP officers had barricaded the Speaker’s Lobby with furniture before a rioter shattered the glass door. If the doors were breached, the rioters would have immediate access to the House chambers,” Capitol police said at the time. “The officer’s actions were consistent with the officer’s training and USCP policies and procedures.”

Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, had traveled to Washington, D.C., from her home in San Diego because she “loved her country and wanted to show her support” for Trump, the lawsuit read, adding that she “did not go to Washington as part of a group or for any unlawful or nefarious purpose.”

The lawsuit accuses Capitol Police of assault and battery and negligent use of force, among other allegations.

In March, Babbitt’s mother, Micki Witthoeft met with then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in his office. Before the meeting, Witthoeft has been leading nightly Jan. 6 protests outside the D.C. jail for months.

Almost three years on, nearly 1,200 people have so far been charged in connection with the Capitol riot, and more than 700 have pleaded guilty. According to investigators, 140 police officers were assaulted at the Capitol.

In July 2021, as part of a plea deal, the man who live-streamed Babbitt’s shooting pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

CBS News has reached out to Capitol Police for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

— Robert Legare, Scott MacFarlane and Melissa Quinn contributed to this report. 

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