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U.S. closes probe of Capitol Police shooting of woman killed in Jan. 6 riot

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A mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

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WASHINGTON, April 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has closed its investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt, a participant in a Jan. 6 riot shot by U.S. Capitol Police, saying there was no evidence to prove the officer who shot her had violated her civil rights.

Federal and local investigators have determined "there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution," the Justice Department said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that her family had been informed of the decision.

Babbitt, 35, was an Air Force veteran and ardent supporter of former Republican President Donald Trump who endorsed his false claims that the election was stolen.

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She was among a large mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, in a failed bid to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's election victory and one of five people to die that day.

Her shooting was captured on video and posted widely on social media. In it, she can be seen climbing through a doorway with a smashed window, when a Capitol Police officer on the other side fires his gun.

Prosecutors have filed charges so far against more than 400 defendants in the Capitol riots, with some facing allegations they conspired to storm the building in advance.

The focus of the investigation into Babbitt's death, however, entailed whether the officer had deprived her of her constitutional Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to an unreasonable seizure.

To prove such a case in court, the department would have needed to show not only that the officer used constitutionally unreasonable force, but that he did so "willfully."

"The investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress," the department said.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch Editing by Chris Reese

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