Ashli Babbitt, a Jan. 6 rioter who former President Trump and his supporters have portrayed as a righteous martyr who was unjustly killed, had a history of making violent threats and became consumed by pro-Trump conspiracy theories before the attack on the Capitol, the Associated Press reports. Babbitt, 35, was fatally shot while attempting to climb through the broken window of a barricaded door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby inside the Capitol. Police officers were evacuating members of Congress from the mob supporting Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. “Nothing will stop us,” Babbitt tweeted Jan. 5. “They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours....dark to light!” In 2016, Babbitt rammed a vehicle three times with an SUV and pounded on the window of her boyfriend's mistress, Celeste Norris, challenging her to a fight. Babbitt was charged with reckless endangerment and malicious destruction of property for the damage to Norris’ vehicle.
In his video on Babbitt’s birthday, Trump said: “Together we grieve her terrible loss. There was no reason Ashli should have lost her life that day. We must all demand justice for Ashli and her family, so on this solemn occasion as we celebrate her life, we renew our call for a fair and nonpartisan investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt.” The Capitol Police officer who shot Babbitt, Lt. Michael Byrd, said he fired as a “last resort.” When he pulled the trigger, he said, he had no idea whether the person jumping through the window was armed. A Maryland personal injury lawyer representing Babbitt’s husband, Aaron, has raised $375,000 through a Christian crowdfunding site and has threatened to file a lawsuit against the Capitol Police. Key to that wrongful death claim is the contention that Babbitt, a 14-year Air Force veteran, who was 5-foot-2 and weighed 115 pounds, would have peacefully surrendered had Capitol officers attempted to arrest her.