GOP Representative Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma has revealed how he comforted the distraught officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt, one of the Trump supporters who entered the Capitol on 6 January.
Mr Mullin said he encountered and hugged the officer who shot Ms Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, as she tried to climb through a broken window next to a door close to the speaker’s lobby.
Mr Mullin told C-SPAN last week that the officer was “later in his career” and the GOP Rep added that he was sure the officer “did not want to use lethal force” but that he was left with no other option.
“He was the last person in the world who ever wanted to use force like that,” Mr Mullin said. “I don’t know for a fact, but I can guarantee you he’s never had to pull his weapon in a manner like that before. I know for a fact because after it happened, he came over. He was physically and emotionally distraught. I actually gave him a hug and I said, ‘Sir, you did what you had to do.’
“Unfortunately, the young lady, her family’s life has changed and it’s unfortunate that she lost her life, but the lieutenant’s life has changed too,” he added. “It wasn’t his choice. He did not show up that day to have to do that, he got put in a situation where he had to do his job because there were members [of the House] still in the balcony.”
“If you’re going to present your weapon in a manner and give commands and they still don’t listen and they still approach, you don’t have a choice,” he said. “Either you have to, at that point, discharge your weapon in a manner of self-defence or that weapon’s going to be taken away from you. It’s going to be used against you and put all of our lives in danger too.”
Mr Mullin added that he thinks the officer’s actions “saved other people’s lives… because I think there would have been a lot more that would have lost their lives because there were still a lot of members on the balcony”.
Former President Donald Trump has used the death of Ms Babbitt to attack his political adversaries. He claimed in an interview with Fox News earlier this month that the officer who discharged his weapon was a Democrat.
“Who shot Ashli Babbitt? Why are they keeping that secret? Who was the person that shot an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman, a military woman?” Mr Trump said.
“I’ve heard also that it was the head of security for a certain high official, a Democrat. And we’ll see because it’s going to come out,” Mr Trump added.
The Department of Justice said in a statement that “officials examined video footage posted on social media, statements from the officer involved, and other officers and witnesses to the events, physical evidence from the scene of the shooting and the results of the shooting.”
“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” the department added.