On Monday, the Capitol Police admitted what the rest of the reality-based world already knew—the officer who shot Jan. 6 insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt as she trying to barrel through a broken window in the Capitol building did nothing wrong. Four months after the Justice Department decided against prosecuting the cop, an internal Capitol Police review not only found that the officer didn’t violate internal policy, but that his actions almost certainly saved the lives of lawmakers and staffers.

Hours after that decision came down, Los Angeles Times columnist and former editorial page editor Nicholas Goldberg went further. He argued that by shooting Babbitt, that cop may have very well kept the insurrection from spiraling completely out of control. In case you can’t get through the paywall, Yahoo! News has Goldberg’s column mirrored here.

Hours after the officer was formally exonerated by his bosses, Goldberg pulled up the video of Babbitt’s final moments. What he saw, to his mind—and to the minds of just about everyone who doesn’t have a MAGA hat glued to his or her head—put the lie to the recent efforts among the deplorables to make Babbitt a martyr.

By now, you know that Donald Trump and his most diehard supporters have branded Babbitt’s death as manslaughter at best and murder at worst. But as Goldberg notes, the video shows anything but a homicide. For starters, Babbitt was front and center in a particularly intimidating moment during the insurrection.

In our first view of Babbitt on the video she’s at the front of an angry mob trying to get through to the “Speaker’s Lobby,” where members of Congress and staff are holed up. She’s screaming at the police, apparently demanding entry.

The crowd is surging. It’s at the doors. “F— the blue!” can be heard. People are bashing at the glass panels on the doors with sticks and flagpoles. Several police officers are doing their best to hold back an entire crowd, but it seems like a losing battle. “Break it down,” yells the crowd.

At the same time, a Capitol Police lieutenant is pointing his gun at the mob—as Goldberg puts it, “an unmistakable warning to stay back,” one that Babbitt would have almost certainly recognized from her Air Force days, when she served as a security guard.

Instead, as we now know, Babbitt got two of her fellow “patriots” to boost her through a broken window in the Speaker’s Lobby. Just as she barrels through, a single shot goes off, and Babbitt falls to the floor—as we now know, mortally wounded.

Goldberg points out that several lawmakers were visible on the other side of that door. That led him to this stark conclusion—had Babbitt made it through, it would have been “inevitable” that the mob behind her would have followed her. His “normal human instinct” led him to draw a further conclusion.

Babbitt crossed a line that had been clearly delineated. The police obviously felt it was a last stand. The potential danger was obvious. Babbitt’s shooting appears to have stopped the forward movement of the crowd. All this happened on a day when the vice president’s life had been threatened, and when police were being savagely beaten elsewhere in the building.

Could the mob possibly have been stopped without Babbitt’s death? Maybe. Perhaps there was a way to have avoided deadly force. But it’s not clear to me what that way would have been — and it is clear that if Babbitt had gone through that doorway, an out-of-control situation would have deteriorated further.

The closest thing to raw footage I’ve been able to find comes from Spain’s El Pais (sorry, embedding isn’t possible because it’s age-restricted). Watching it, it’s hard not to agree with Goldberg—that cop  not only prevented the horror of Jan. 6 from spiraling out of control, but may have very well saved the republic.

Due in part to the likes of Trump, Paul Gosar and others irately demanding that his name be released, the Capitol Police haven’t released the officer’s name yet. But at considerable risk to his own safety, he’s revealing his identity for the first time on Thursday night in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt. Hopefully we can get a truer glimpse of what he saw that day—and knock down, once and for all, any talk of Babbitt being a martyr.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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