Videos of the woman shot dead in the Capitol

January 7, 2021 • 11:30 am

These videos are disturbing, and the second one a bit gory, so watch them at your discretion. They purport to be videos of the woman who was shot dead at the Capitol yesterday. You’ll have to watch the first one on YouTube but the link will take you there.

It look as though she was shot for trying to break through a window. Did she deserve to die for that? Was she even armed?

You be the judge. As usual, we should wait for more information before coming to a final decision, and that information will surely be forthcoming. There must surely be an investigation.

Here’s another view, from a different angle. I am just presenting this as another view; I neither agree nor disagree with the tweet’s caption.

194 thoughts on “Videos of the woman shot dead in the Capitol

  1. How can you force your way into the very heart of American democracy, ignore instructions given by armed police and then expect NOT to get shot? The armed guards inside had no idea whether these people were armed or not and were doing their job to protect elected politicians inside.

    1. Yes. I think the guards had to presume they rioters were armed. Their act of invading the Capitol was a cult-minded, Kamikaze mission. It’s amazing that only one person was shot.

      1. Those “others are armed” you see are capitol police in riot gear that could have been accidentally shot too. Not taking sides here because deadly force may have been warranted if the security forces feared for their lives… but it appears no one of these groups were “armed” at least not with firearms. Very unfortunate overly emotional confused actions by some radicals. It may not ever be clear what all instigated this. But its clear that the country is divided and upset. And it also clear that there are two different standards to different groups. Sad day when patriots are all judges by the wrongful actions of a few though.

        1. Which ‘patriots’ are you referring to here? Lots of Republican leaders have supported Trump’s claims that the election was rigged on the basis of nothing more than the fact that they don’t like losing. Not much patriotism involved in that. The likes of Mitch McConnell only walked back from these claims long after they had opened Pandora’s Box and unleashed the chaos that culminated in the sad events in Washington.
          I don’t doubt that many of the ‘MAGA’ hat-wearing folk who provide Trump’s support base sincerely love the USA (or at least a particular vision of it that does not include liberals, immigrants, atheists, etc) but patriotism does not excuse anyone for believing absurd claims or supporting the monstrous behaviour of leaders such as Trump whose contempt for democracy and the principles upon which the US was supposedly built could not be more manifest.

          In the words of Samuel Johnson ‘patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’.

    2. Also relevant is that these were not ‘police.’ They were AIUI Secret Service agents whose job it is to protect the Congressmen and women under their care. So they do not have the ‘protect and serve the public’ function police have.

      I can’t tell from the video if they firing a warning shot. They probably should’ve, even with the risks involved of doing that in an enclosed building. After sufficient warning though, when their protectees are backed into a room from which there is no exit, and a mob is coming through the windows, yeah, these guys are paid and ordered to do pretty much exactly this.

    3. Finally a police/security officer who was consciously doing his job. Can anyone say what irreparable physical and political damage would be done by the extremists had they gained access to the wing being protected? This is not police indiscriminately beating up or running down protestors blocking traffic or throwing rocks. It was an insurrectionist mob storming of a seat of American democracy.

  2. That they were able to get anywhere near the Capitol is the real crime here. Everyone knew they were coming in large numbers. I am very interested in hearing how this whole thing happened. The lady was a victim of her corruption by a lying President and his minions and to the police (not sure which ones), and/or their management, not doing their jobs.

    1. They shouldn’t have been able to get to the steps let alone inside. It’s not like this riot wasn’t known. They said they were coming.

      1. I think that taking some of the money away from police and using it to pay social workers is a good idea but I wouldn’t call it defunding the police. As to the event under discussion, no one would expect such a move to solve all problems, let alone something like this. I suspect you were mostly joking.

    2. Protests at the Capitol are standard and commonplace. Perfectly legal. 1st Amendment protected (pretty much the definition of 1A protected speech). Storming the Capitol building and destroying property were the violation.

      Hey, I condemn these morons as much as anyone; but we and the police need to stick to the law.

      1. Depends on what you mean by “at the Capitol”. Surely protests within the Capitol building aren’t allowed when Congress is in session. And in this particular situation, the “protestors” had to push past guards and barriers, go through windows, or climb walls. That’s trespassing, right?

  3. I’m sure there will be an investigation. The only excuse for lethal force here would be if the shooter had been given orders to deny entry at any cost, which seems unlikely. Other police were, at the same time, leaving the scene as if to signal they were not going to resist.

  4. What a shit show in there. All those cops and all these people ignoring instructions. These idiots still didn’t listen even after she was shot. They act so casual to cops pointing guns at them as if it’s just another day and they can choose to listen or not because “ma freedom”. It’s tragic this woman lost her life but at the same time if I tried to force my way into a building in the US secured by police and repeatedly ignored instructions to stop and proceeded to break barriers when I saw police with guns drawn I wouldn’t be surprised when someone fired at me to stop me. I think these rioters live in a cartoon/video game world where they don’t at all understand consequences.

    There are allies of the US who believe Trump had police supporter on the inside that aided this breach. I have to agree. The capitol police train for this stuff. How could they allow these goons access and let things get this bad? Only if they were interfered with!

    1. I know. At least two things don’t make sense:

      1) The Capitol of the US was built to intimidate foreign leaders. The idea that it wouldn’t be adequately secured during a crucial moment in electoral history defies belief. How could rioters be allowed anywhere near the building? When they initially pushed through the gate, why didn’t a reserve of officers descend? I can understand the strategy of wanting to minimize a police presence (anti-antagonism strategy) but not to actually not have a reserve ready.

      2) I watched the videos. Indeed, the rioters didn’t act as alarmed as I would’ve had someone been shot next to me. Why didn’t they move away from the door?

      1. It is still a public building, with visitors and tours. I would not want these installations to be any other way. But ‘hardening’ comes after experience and maybe this is the experience that is needed.
        I think I’d read somewhere that until the 1940s you could walk right up to the White House.

        1. It was the same with Downing Street until Thatcher’s time I seem to recall. It should still be accessible in my view. As a child I walked down there on a trip to London.

    2. None of them seemed to know how to render first aid, or move back or shut up, but they kept on filming. Six, seven, eight of them(?), kept on filming.

      1. They live in a reality of video games and comics it seems. Just detached from the real world. I find their behaviour truly bizarre, as if they are emotionally blunted.

    3. There’s definitely a subset of these people that WANT to be martyred. They want something crazy to happen so that in their minds, the narrative about evil things going on in D.C. is validated. I’m not surprised at all to see them taunting police and security, and ignoring their warnings.

  5. As she’s already dead so can’t be further prosecuted, does the Tweeter mean the Capitol officers who shot her (after she broke into a secure government building containing the Vice President, every elected member of Congress, and the original Electoral College certificates) were the ones committing a sickening crime that should be prosecuted?

  6. We don’t know what was down that hall behind those doors. It could have been the path to the VP, senators and congresspersons. We also don’t know the position of the shooter. He seemed to be in plain clothes. FBI? Secret Service? Police? Member of congress? Frightened staff member?

  7. Last year, the US had widespread episodes of vandalism and arson directed explicitly against the institution of policing. Next, large segments of one of the two big political Parties rejected the outcome of a free and fair election, and insisted on disenfranchising huge blocs of other voters. Finally, yesterday the Chief Executive incited a mob of his supporters to attack the Legislative branch. I think it is fair to say that the principles of democratic governance are demonstrably not well-rooted in the USA. What is to be done?

    At a minimum, perhaps advisors should be sent to the USA from societies which have shown better adherence to democratic principles, such as Ukraine, Liberia, and Tunisia. And during the years it may take for the USA to learn these principles, the safety of the planet might be well served if the USA were ruled as a protectorate by mature democracies in its region, such as Iceland, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, or Costa Rica.

  8. The woman who was shot has been identified as Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan. That means there’s no way she could have been ignorant of the potential consequences of storming a government building under active Secret Service protection.

    1. Standard cult behavior: fanatical belief in the infallibility of the Leader creates an irrational sense of immunity from consequences. The cops on the other side of the door had no idea if she was carrying a weapon or explosives. She was part of a mob that turned the Capitol into a war zone, and she should have thought a lot harder about what happens to people who go into war zones as invaders.

    2. Umm.. . . I beg to differ. Just because she was a vet who served does NOT mean she knows what the Secret Service can do when someone storms the Capitol. Further, it’s not clear that the person who shot her was a Secret Service agent.

      1. You can see clearly from the second video that the shooter had his gun pointed at the door from the start. Maybe she couldn’t see the gun from where she was standing, but if she could, she should have realised that she was in a potentially fatal situation.

        That said, stupidity is endemic in humanity and it shouldn’t be a capital crime. If her shooting was unlawful, I hope the authorities will act appropriately against her killer.

      2. I have read that he was plainclothed, and that uniformed police present did not know that he was another member of the security forces, and while giving the woman first aid, they issued active shooter alert.

      3. I just saw an interview with the dead woman’s uncle on BBC where he reports she served as a military policewoman in Afghanistan. Even unarmed, I suspect she could have been lethal if provoked.

        1. She wasnt a threat and unarmed. She was wrong doing what she did but didnt deserve to die. Everyone deserves their day in court. A police man could’ve thrown her to the ground and cuffed her. She may be strong but shes not a man.

    3. Babbit’s twitter account shows her to be QAnon conspiracy supporter. She apparently flew from San Diego to participate in the ruckus. When killed, she was participating in mob violence against the US government with the apparent goal of overturning the will of the people and establishing a Trump dictatorship.

    4. And what was in her backpack? Clothes, weapons, who knows? Certainly no way for the shooter to know.

      And was the door the shooter in the suit came from, the one where several other plainclothes security guards were protecting the senators remaining inside? (One of the more publicized photos.)

    1. Nobody deserves to be shot for insane political beliefs, or even trespassing.

      Whether it was reasonable to shoot her given the circumstances and what she was doing, is a different question. I’m sadly coming down on the side of ‘yes.’ But I don’t think she deserved death merely for being a crazy Trump supporter, or even entering the Capitol.

      1. She wasn’t killed for being a crazy Trump supporter. She was killed because she was committing a violent crime.

        1. Not all violent crimes deserve death, you know. If you commit a violent crime and are running away from the cops, you don’t automatically deserve to be killed. You’ve seen an officer of the law on this site say that it looked like a bad shooting. I didn’t see a warning; I didn’t see the woman wield a weapon. So no, I don’t automatically think she deserved to be killed. And they could have fired at a non-lethal part of her body, as they did here at the U of C when a mentally ill student charged a policeman with a metal spike. There were multiple warnings, he charged, and they shot him in the leg.

          At the very least, these kind of precautions should have been taken.

          1. It matters largely what the rules of engagement were.

            As a private citizen, I understand that if a trespasser violently breaks into my home, possibly armed, the law allows me to shoot him/her, even without a verbal warning. In the few seconds you have to think and act you don’t have time to work through all scenarios, and certainly not who “deserves” to die. They take that chance when they break in, to kill or steal from you or both it matters not. Laws supporting lethal action in defense of one’s self and family are there for a good moral reason.

        2. She was climbing through a window. That’s not a violent crime. You may argue that being on the other side of that window would put her in the position to be able to commit a violent crime and that would justify killing her, but she was not being violent at the time she was shot.

          1. Trying to put myself into the officer for a moment. They’ve been outnumbered, continually harrassed, and were being forced to retreat and retreat again (I assume), by increasingly emboldened rioters. If one got thru that door then more would come thru and they would be losing ground again. The hardest thing there is is to be in their position thru that ordeal and think clinically and dispassionately.

            1. They’re supposed to be trained for it. The shot was bad in other ways too as has already been pointed out. The woman had a large crowd behind her including other armed police officers. I’m beginning to think the shooter is going to be on a lot of trouble.

              1. When, exactly, should he have shot? When she landed and rushed the door? What if she didn’t hear a ‘stop or I’ll shoot’? The rest of the crowd was almost through the doors. And if they hadn’t shot her, the rest of the crowd, almost through the door, had all rushed them at once, then what?

              2. Do you think it’s acceptable to shoot at somebody with random people behind them including your own colleagues? As he shot, there was a squad of armed officers coming up the stairs. If the woman had got through nobody would be following unless the armed officers that just arrived stood by and did nothing.

            1. If you feel the need to stop someone, a taser will not stop someone as fast as a bullet. And it depends on the prongs being able to penetrate layers of clothing.

  9. If you participate in an attempted coup, you should expect your life to be in danger. Trump, of course, incited this, so they thought his approval was enough to “safely” participate in a coup. They were wrong.

    1. My view as well. No, she did not deserve to be shot, but it should not be surprising to anyone that someone would get shot in these circumstances. And in these circumstances I don’t think the LEO who shot her can be blamed for acting out of line.

    1. OMG — This is the winning comment. If this had been a BLM protest or any other protest by the left and the “protesters” broke into the White House, the Secret Service would have mowed them down with machine guns (which they have available) while Trump stood by and cheered them on.

      1. Does the same go for anyone? A tyrant? A mass murderer? It is a really interesting question.

        I recall in the 70s hearing a Ugandan bishop talk. When he was asked if he had a gun in the presence of Idi Amin what he would do, he said words to the effect, “I would hand it to him & say, ‘this is your weapon, not mine’”… An interesting answer, if predictably Jesus-ish. One thing I do not get is the US christians who fail to turn the other cheek, & love their enemies. 🤔

    1. Now I really want to know what she had in her backpack. Happy to wait to find out. My right-wing fbfriend is still insisting that’s she’s antifa. (And none of the rest are Trmp supporters either.)

  10. Somewhat related.

    This one is for Ken Kukec. Can Trump pardon the people who occupied the Capitol yesterday?

    1. I’m not Ken, but yes he could. That’s one reason for removing him from office immediately. He could offer blanket amnesty, just as Carter did for about a half million draft evaders.

        1. Sure, same way he could pardon his kids for any crimes they may have committed over the last four years. Ford pardoned Nixon in such a way — Nixon was never charged with a crime.

    2. If they hit them with federal crimes yes he could, but *sometimes* in DC they charge them under DC law for smaller crimes like trespassing in which case he couldn’t.
      He wouldn’t pardon them anyway though because to do so would have no direct benefit to him and he doesn’t do ANYTHING without any direct benefit to himself. They’re just useful idiots and marks. Losers to him.

      D.A., J.D.
      NYC
      (former resident of DC / Georgetown U student)

      sorry Ken K. I’ll take your fee this time 😉

  11. Plainly, the woman who was shot was engaged in criminal conduct. But it’s impossible to tell from the videos alone, without a full investigation into surrounding circumstances, whether the shooting was legally justified.

    1. I agree, and I’m distressed that so many people here–indeed, nearly all–don’t think this even needs to be investigated–that she knew what she was getting into and more or less got what was coming to her. That saddens me. I don’t care if she was crazy, deluded, or what, her life was taken and it was not clear that that was justified.

      1. The sole death resulting from the armed takeover of the Malheur wildlife refuge was investigated, this should be as well. I think what people are saying is that this shooting is consistent with police behavior in the US – not necessarily that she deserved it (I could be wrong here). We should always investigate police shootings, in my opinion.

        1. Yes, isn’t it protocol to investigate all shootings, especially fatal ones? I’m pretty sure this will be investigated. I’m not sure of the protocols in a situation like this one yesterday but it’s interesting to note that in many US states, you are justified in shooting a home invader and shooting to kill.

      2. It needs to be investigated; the whole entire event needs to be thoroughly reviewed up and down so that we learn all the lessons we can and neither a shooting, nor such a major breach of the Capitol, ever happens again. This includes the shooting. I have no issue with that.

        I find it hard, though, to think she didn’t know what she was “getting into” when she is illegally in the Capitol building, climbing through a broken window in a barricaded door, to try and get to an area where members of Congress are being guarded by armed protective agents. She knew. She may not have known they would shoot. She may not have known that her intent to stop the count would be conservatively construed as a potential lethal threat to those inside. But she knew she was climbing into an area she was expressly forbidden from going into, where armed guards were protecting people from she and her compatriots.

        1. By entering the Capitol building the way she did, she assumed the risk of facing the use of force, including possibly the use of lethal force, from the police. This would likely preclude her estate (absent extraordinary circumstances not apparent in the video) from bringing a civil lawsuit for wrongful death.

          But her assumption of that risk would NOT give a law-enforcement officer the right to shoot her unless the specific circumstances at the time of the shooting justified the use of lethal force.

          I’m trying not to get too far into the legal weeds here, but there’s a meaningful distinction between the two.

          1. I generally agree with you. And I agree with Jerry that none of the peripheral matters (‘she was a Trumpie’ etc..) are reasons or excuses for her shooting. However I think your “unless the specific circumstances…” comment is exactly the point. Trying to break through a barricaded door to get to into a place where armed protective agents guarding Congresscritters are telling you not to go, where they are pointing guns and telling you to back off, is one of those circumstances. Scalise was shot at a baseball practice. Giffords was shot in a supermarket parking lot. Both in the last 10 years. There is no way federal agents protecting Congresscritters from a literal rioting mob which is running rampant through the chambers of Congress are going to take the chance that letting one of those rioters through the barricade and into arm’s reach might not result in harm.

            Yes, this isn’t the police standard, which should be more protective of the public. But if you jump the WH fence and run towards the door – even unarmed – you very well might get shot. If you jump out in front of the President’s motorcade – again, even if unarmed – you very well might get run over. Because these guys have one federally mandated job, and it isn’t to protect the public from harm. It’s to stop potential threats from getting close to their charges, by pretty much any means necessary.

      3. If she were a rioter, she likely died, at least in part, because Trump whipped up outrage in his followers who believed the US was under attack internally. I agree that it is unclear who shot her or exactly why and that her life was valuable. She appears to be a casualty of a fascist’s deranged aims.

        If she were former military may have made her even more sympathetic to Trump.

        Or maybe she isn’t who people presume she is.

        Whatever the case, her death is tragic.

        The outrage should be directed to Trump. His tweets encouraged the sedition.

      4. I appreciate and respect your viewpoint and consistency. So many comments online were of the form “haha! but man, why only one?? :-D” As in, it’s great when something bad happens to the other side.

    2. Thank you KK and WEIT for your cautions. Given the number of fatal and sensational encounters between the public and law-enforcement or would-be law-enforcers in the last decade which have been badly or incompletely reported initially, sometimes accompanied by brief videos, we should have learnt by now to wait for more investigation.

  12. I guess the clock is ticking until this member of a lynch mob who broke into the Capitol and got shot by the cops becomes seen as a martyr who died to single-handedly disprove the Black Lives Matter movement. Maybe it’s already happened.

    1. That comment is out of line. “Lynch mob” is pejorative–do you think they wanted to kill people? And where is your empathy? A life is lost and all you talk about is “she’s gonna be a martyr.” I suspect her family would rather her be alive than a martyr.

      1. I used the term lynch mob after seeing footage of the mob chanting “We want Pence” as they were storming the building, and as Greg notes below, the gallows they set up with the sign saying “This is art”. Plus the cable ties the weapons etc, and the all the footage of politicians cowering under seats and wearing gas masks.

        I didn’t mean to sound unsympathetic to the woman, nor to give any impression that she somehow deserved it.

      2. My description of this crowd as a lynch mob — gained by seeing footage of this armed mob chanting for Mike Pence — was exactly right.

        “I heard at least 3 different rioters at the Capitol say that they hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor. It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed.”
        and
        “There are multiple photographs of pro-Trump rioters carrying law enforcement-style flex-cuffs.
        Rioters went looking for @VP, @SpeakerPelosi, @SenSchumer It raises the question of whether there was an organized plan to take hostages.”

        https://twitter.com/jimbourg/status/1347559078831284227

      1. I believe that a policeman who was dragged into the crowd and beaten has subsequently died of his injuries. That does not suggest peaceful intent either.

  13. That’s a bad shooting. I’m retired from law enforcement with the last seven years in police oversight, investigating police caused fatalities (under Article 2 ECHR – I’m in Europe). There were less than lethal options available. He fired into a mêlée made up of fellow officers and protesters anyone of whom could have been hit. He made no attempt to communicate or seek the assistance of those colleagues. Indeed, initially, they thought they were under threat from him. Audio is poor but there is no verbal warning to be heard and if one was given there was no time permitted to comply. Even the shot itself – should have been two to body mass and not the throat/neck area.

    My overall impression of the Capitol Police is one of mall-cops out of their depth, frightened and reacting like untrained civilians.

    I appreciate the woman was breaking the law but it is for the cops to arrest her and the courts to decide on the penalty.

    Shocking stuff; over-armed and under-trained.

    1. Shocking stuff; over-armed and under-trained.

      Sadly, that seems to be the state of policing in general here in the US. I mean, small towns are able to get tanks left over from our wars in the middle east. Police default to excessive force.

      1. Except normally when you see cops shoot civilians they empty their clip and this was one shot. Don’t know the reasoning behind that but could be different training.

    2. As a former Federal law enforcement officer, I disagree that the Capitol Police are poorly trained, as I know the kind of training they would get. But, with that said, there are troubling things about this shooting, but I would not make a decision without knowing a lot more. Who fired the shot? What were their orders? Are they protecting someone immediately in danger should the rioters get in through the doors? You may have seen the video or pictures of the officers inside the House chamber pointing their guns at the rioters outside the room. Had any of those people come through those doors, they would have been shot. Best not to make snap judgements and let the investigation play out.

      1. In all honesty I know nothing of their training and will pleased to be wrong about that – it’s just the images we’ve seen this side of the Atlantic showed them in a very poor light. Frankly I was surprised because, and as you’ve said, one would expect their training to be of the highest standard given their extraordinary responsibilities.

        I too have no idea what the orders were – but I do know that the heavy decision to shoot will always rest with the officer. In any police shooting I’ve investigated the shooting was always the absolute last resort and on foot of an imminent threat to life – different standards I guess? The other thing that was a bit surprising was the confusion in the officers on the other side in reacting, firstly to a shot fired and then to the immediate application of first aid to the victim. Again, my experience has been that securing the area and immediate first-aid are instant reactions in our firearms officers.

        Astonishing from here to hear that any rioters coming through would be shot – on sight as it were.

        1. I find the actions of the uniformed officers very odd. Why were they there in the middle of a mob of rioters? Doubt that they could have secured the area in the midst of chaos, but first aid should have been a priority. Lots of unknowns in this whole mess.

          1. It appeared that the police outside were initially afraid of the shooter, and then recieved hand signals from the shooter and stopped being afraid.

    3. It’s been reported that the shooter is a Capitol Police plainclothes officer. (As, apparently, were the several armed men who barricaded the door to the House Chamber, and successfully held it; a few congressmen also aided in barricading the door.) It’s also been reported that the Capitol Police’s first priority is to protect the House members and Senators (not the building); I don’t know who may have been with the shooter in the barricaded corridor. The victim was the first one through the barricade (which she got through by by climbing up to and through a broken glass panel on the right of the barricaded entrance). The shooter did *not* fire into the crowd. Prior to shooting, he had been holding his gun on several rioters who were still outside the barricade. He then turned away from these people and fired at her as she went through the opening. The uniformed officers with rifles appear to have been in the stairwell and not yet on the landing with the barricade as the shot was fired, and thus not likely to be visible to the shooter.

      There will be, of course, extensive investigations into all aspects of the storming and occupation of the Capitol, including the shooting. I actually find the actions of the uniformed officers in the stairwell even more curious– did this mob get past them? Were they just standing in the stairwell as the mob attempted to breach the barricade? The instructions under which the officers were operating will be important to know. It is possible that uniformed officers are under different orders than those charged specifically with safeguarding the lives of members; and that the rules may differ between “ordinary” infractions and those occurring during an insurrection.

      GCM

      1. According to an article in the NY Times, this was an area of the building where members of Congress were taking shelter.

      1. It seems very likely that there was. That the abject failure to maintain security was due merely to incompetence seems pretty improbable. The French police official quoted in the article described why pretty well.

  14. There should be a full investigation from start to finish on how this was allowed to happen. It was allowed to happen. At a number of points the dominoes could’ve and should’ve been stopped. The level of intervention seemed very soft compared to other demonstrations in DC

    Should the person fired, no idea. I don’t believe lethal force was necessary but I’m not trained to make that decision so it needs a full investigation

    From the Torygraph
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDF1H7OsjNY

    1. The level of intervention seemed very soft compared to other demonstrations in DC

      You are absolutely right about that. The media is all over it, too. Hmmm, let me think, what could possibly be the difference(s) between this group of people and past groups of people, for whom the police crackdown was much harsher?

    2. The person who fired the shot has been suspended and there will be a joint investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department and the US Capitol Police.

        1. Absolutely. It was a very chaotic scene and we don’t know what was said before the clips shown. In particular, who on earth was the guy in the suit with the lanyard on the same side of the door as those attempting to break in, and what was he saying and doing?

        2. I would certainly not argue that the shooting was justified on the basis of the information currently available and it is absolutely right that there should be an investigation. There are important questions about the whole sequence of events – how did the protestors manage to get as far as they did? what and who provoked their attack? was lethal force justified by the level of threat facing the officer who fired? was it safe to fire into a crowded situation like that? and so on. As a trained professional the officer should account for his actions.
          Having said that I would not have wished to be in his shoes. Whether or not the mob was armed they may still have represented a lethal threat to congressmen and others in the building (and they did indeed beat a policeman to death) and the situation was clearly extremely tense. The dead woman did not deserve to die however reprehensible her views or her actions but she does bear some responsibility for her own death if she failed to take seriously the warnings issued by armed officers. Ultimately, though, responsibility for this incident lies with those whose actions or inactions led to the fatal encounter between these two people. Above all Trump and Giuliani for their irresponsible incitement to violence or ‘trial by combat’ but also the security forces who failed to stop the crowd’s progress before they broke into the building.

  15. I’ve been telling conservatives who never saw a black victim of police violence who didn’t deserve it, but are screaming about this that it’s okay, she was actually high yellow.

  16. I actually think it shows incredible restraint that only one person was shot, and only then after she was the one person to breach this particular hallway. As for a verbal warning, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that somewhere amongst all that shouting were warnings to back away from that hallway. Armed guards pointing their gun at you and yelling is a warning. The death is tragic but it’s incredible there was only one person shot. This mob was clearly armed and not responding to any warnings to stop what they were doing. My guess is that if they were allowed to storm that hallway they would have gotten to where the congress and perhaps the VP were being safeguarded.

  17. That woman didn’t deserve to die, but the shooting looked substantially more justifiable than most of the police shootings I’ve seen.

    If anyone should be held responsible for her death, it should be Donald Trump and the Republican congresspeople who incited an insurrectionist mob.

  18. I wish very much that poor woman was alive now, for her, her family, friends…and also even for the psyche of the person who shot her.

    No I don’t think she “deserved” to get shot. But that’s the risk she took and is responsible for having taken that risk.

    If I’ve stormed a capitol building, with an angry mob known to be armed, and I’m trying to illegally gain entrance smashing through a window with police aiming a gun at me telling me to stop…yes…I think I should be prepared to get shot.

    I’d use an analogy: Take the not so clear-thinking person who leaps over the fence in a zoo to pet the polar bear and take a selfie, who then gets mauled to death. That person doesn’t “deserve” to be killed by the bear, but they certainly are responsible for having taken that risk and it’s their fault.

    But of course it also makes sense to look around at those who had the responsibility for dealing with and anticipating those types of situations. One should also ask “given there are going to be some people who want to get in to the areas with the animals, were the barriers adequate and reasonable and if not we need to come up with some way of doing better.”

    Same with this: The woman took a stupid risk, and paid a price she should have known could (or even would!) occur. But the actions/training of the shooter should also definitely be looked in to, in terms of how justified his actions were, and whether changing the system or training can reduce future avoidable deaths.

    1. She was also a 14 yr Army Vet, not the average Trmp supporters just there for their “feel-good” moment.

      1. So what. She was apparently a supporter of Qanon, which immediately puts her in the ‘deranged’ bucket, and so any purported attributes of Army vets – such as maturity and sanity – obviously cannot be claimed for her. There are a few rotten apples in every barrel.
        I find it quite remarkable that only one rioter got shot.

  19. Thank you, Prof. Coyne, for truly valuing human life, including that of deluded people who threw their lives away for wrong causes. To all who think that the killed woman got what she deserved, I wish never to be in a position – as I have been – to riot in front of the national assembly building.

  20. There had been reports of two explosive devices in the Capitol area. The officer could not tell if her large backpack may have contained another explosive device. She did not have firearms visible. So, strictly speaking she may have only be performing property crimes, and the proper police response, without other considerations, would not include deadly force.
    If there had been threats to potential congress members protected by that officer, that could potentially be those ‘other considerations’ which would authorize deadly force.
    Note that she was squatting to get through that window, so her legs would have been in the same area as her center of mass from the bullet’s path. The officer would have needed to expose themselves to potential fire from the rioters in order to shoot her in the leg rather than the torso. Yes, even from about three feet away. Video games and action movies do not accurately reflect ballistics.

    This definitely should be investigated. I expect the investigators to hear the Rules of Engagement given to the officers, and the data available to that officer. The officer should have had a body camera and the investigators will determine if lawful orders and warnings were given.

  21. I think that it almost goes without saying that she did not deserve to die. I guess the question is whether or not it was justified.

    As a bit of context (I don’t think that it is mentioned above) the video was filmed looking through the entrance to the speakers lobby, with the door on the left (in which the shooter is standing) leading directly into the house chamber. I believe (though don’t know) that at that time there were representatives still in the chamber. Other videos from the chamber seem to support this. The police were heavily outnumbered, and even in the absence of weapons, allowing a large violent mob into the chamber could have been disastrous.

    Given that I (with no inside information) saw news reports several days ago that there was a plan by Trump supporters to invade the capitol, it is clear that the real responsibility for this death lies with those who failed to provide adequate security when these plans were overtly described in advance.

    1. Indeed. The sergeant at arms, responsible for security in the House, has resigned but the guy in charge of security for the Senate hasn’t yet (although Schumer has called on him to).

    2. The responsibility for the death falls upon those in the mob who invaded the capitol with the intent of overthrowing the constitution and, ultimately, the government of the United States of America. Not finding an effective police force does not absolve the mob for its actions or the consequences of those actions. This was not merely a violent street demonstration; it was a dangerous attack on the America and its foundational institutions.

  22. I think this shooting was completely justified and details of the story (in these comments) corroborate my suspicions. That door was barricaded and members of Congress were being protected behind that defensive line of cops/secret service. The woman who was shot was climbing through a side window of that door. Once that line is breached (it’s true in warfare, in riots, etc.) dozens of people can pour through and all ability to maintain an effective defense gets scrambled and ineffective, including the difficult judgment of shooting behind you toward other cops or innocents should this woman run past you. I’m sure there was an order like “if anyone comes through that door, take them down.”

    Whether she was armed or not is utterly irrelevant. The cops can’t know that (maybe she wore a bomb vest) nor do they know her motive other than that she is hell bent on penetrating the interior of the Capitol building for some nefarious reason where the politicians are. Politicians that they’ve sworn to protect. So, they did their duty and “held the line” by shooting her. It worked too because no one else from that clearly visible mob came through that window after her, no one else got shot (or needed to be), and they protected the Congressional leaders. I truly wish that this poor, misguided woman had not died but it was completely appropriate that she was shot if my impression of the scene is correct. By all means investigate it. It’s important to remember that not everyone who gets shot, dies.

    I’m curious why some here think she shouldn’t have been shot. What’s the alternative, let her pass? And the throng of rioters behind her too?

    1. I think, like Asimov, that violence is the last refuge if the incompetent. I do not like guns & policing with guns, but then I am not American, & not used to seeing guns not in the hands of soldiers. I hate seeing armed police in the UK.

      I sympathise however with the shooter who will have to undergo investigation now but who was certainly under huge pressure.

      I hate the word patriot. As Dr Johnson said, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Wonder if Asimov was reflecting on that…

      America just loves guns & American culture seems – SEEMS- to accept shootings by officials & public, as a price of… some strange view of liberty. Every film with right wing American loonies seems to quote Jefferson -“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”… usually quoted out of context!

      I don’t know… she chose to go there – only she had no free will!

    2. This is my take, too. If they let her through and waited until she posed a direct threat before using force there could be another half a dozen people through the barricade and your defense could be overrun. If they were protecting people behind the line it is crucial that the line be held.

      I wonder, though, if officers armed with clubs right at the barricade could effectively hold people off, so that lethal force could be a last resort.

  23. What’s shameful in the aftermath is how few people have been arrested. Despite clear evidence on video of hundreds of rioters gaining access to the Capitol and damaging government property, as of this morning only about 80 have been arrested, most for curfew violations, and only one person was arrested on a felony charge of violating the Riot Act.

    Also, from NPR:

    “Videos taken of the chaos appeared to show, at best, an unprepared police force easily overrun by rioters or, at worst, one that appeared to acquiesce to the mob. Unverified videos shared on social media showed a police officer taking selfies with some rioters who entered the Capitol, and another appeared to show officers moving barricades to allow a large crowd of people to approach the building.”

    1. Isn’t that just a side effect of having way too few guards for the situation? When you can’t sufficiently protect the building, making arrests gets a low priority. In that case, protecting the politicians and themselves takes priority.

      1. Oh, I don’t know. I think the cop who was taking selfies with rioters (which is on video) could have made an arrest or two. Along with many others who seem to have sympathized with the mob. A lot of Trumpers in that force.

    2. The news said that hundreds of federal agents are combing through the pictures and putting our request to people, hotels, and airlines, to help identify people. Believe me, there will be a lot MORE arrests–if for no other reason to keep this from ever happening again. And those convicted are likely to face stiff penalties.

      1. And if they apply the rule that involvement in a murder means that everyone involved can be charged with murder, then indeed very stiff penalties, as a police officer was killed too

  24. The Air Force vet who served multiple Middle East tours from 2004 to 2016 wasn’t the only one who died. Here’s how the other three vigilantes died:

    – one woman was crushed to death by the mob
    – one man had a stroke and died at the hospital
    – one man accidentally tasered himself and had a heart attack

    1. I think there is something wrong with my mirror neurons.

      Having said that what’s to be done? 25A Trump … makes him a martyr? Is there anyone left in the White House who will follow his instruction? The bigger problem is the immense education program that is necessary for US citizenry. Not just the 73 million.

    1. Why the right to bare arms or even bear arms?! I thought the militia part of the US constitution would be superseded when they got a standing army & National Guard & police both local & federal?

      In a country that worships libertarianism (I have some sympathy with that) AND the gun, shooting people becomes an acceptable answer to a stressful situation.

      It should never be acceptable to shoot an unarmed person.

        1. That’s an extreme claim. If your idea were accepted, everyone wearing a backpack would die every time they got into trouble.

          I also think Dom makes an extreme claim. Even an unarmed person can do serious harm.

          I stand by my position that if an officer feels that shooting is necessary and if the person is not holding a weapon, the officer should not shoot to kill. Neither extreme (don’t shoot or shoot to kill) is the correct option.

          1. “That’s an extreme claim.”

            First of all, that’s not a claim.

            “If your idea were accepted, everyone wearing a backpack would die every time they got into trouble.”

            That’s ridiculous. I didn’t suggest that. I suggested that someone breaking through a barrier at the US Capitol during an attempt to over-throw an election should be assumed to be armed and dangerous.

            1. “It should be assumed that her backpack contained an explosive device.”

              If this guidance were applied to anyone breaking the law, imagine the amount of undeserved bloodshed. Even if you only mean to apply this guidance to the case of people entering the capital during this particular protest, then you would seem to be arguing that all of the protesters wearing a backpack inside the capital should have been killed. That seems extreme to me.

        2. No one is forced to join the police. They should put the lives of the public above their own I would argue. Though usually we hear that police shoot people thinking their lives are at risk. Do right wing extremists use suicide vests? Or do you mean some other type of explosive devices? I suppose it is possible. I rather think if they’d searched her they would probably find sandwiches!

          This is the sort of incompetence that results from armed police https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Jean_Charles_de_Menezes

          1. “I rather think if they’d searched her they would probably find sandwiches!”

            They could have searched her if she didn’t break-through the security check points. Once that happened, she was fair-game.

            1. If only that had been a possibility. I am not saying any more as this is now a pointless discussion & would be breaking the roolz. You clearly endorse violence to resolve violent confrontation.
              Fine.

          2. The murder of de Menezes was utterly inexcusable. I say ‘murder’ because he was unarmed, completely innocent of any wrongdoing, and given no chance to surrender before he was deliberately shot to death. The fact that he was suspected (on no good grounds at all) of looking like a terrorist does not change the fact that he was deliberately killed. Incompetence does not reduce the crime.
            To make it worse, the police then tried to blacken his name (in some attempt to justify their blunder) by casting vague doubts on his immigration status.
            This is an absolutely different case from the Capitol shooting in which the ‘victim’ certainly gave ample cause for violent reaction.

          3. Something to keep in mind about this particular incident, the Capitol Police are not a normal police force. Their mandate is not to serve and protect the public. Their mandate is to protect the United States Congress, similar to how the Secret Service’s mandate is to protect the Executive.

            It appears that this Capitol Police Officer was holding the final line between an active mob that had already forced its way into the Capitol building, and some number of Congresspersons. He and the small number of other officers in the chamber behind him were severely outnumbered. And then one of this active mob breaks through the line. I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that in these circumstances the officer would fire his weapon.

            So many of the “he should of” arguments here make assumptions that just as likely are invalid. I don’t think we should be condemning this officer and I don’t think the woman deserved to die.

            Regarding the performance of the Capitol Police more generally in this crisis, particularly its leadership, I smell a rat. I don’t believe that they failed so spectacularly because of incompetence. Surely someone, or some few, were complicit in this. It seems very likely that this was intentionally allowed to happen. As several foreign intelligence persons have said, all the evidence so far strongly suggest that this was an attempted coup and that the Capitol Police are complicit in it. If this turns out to be the case and people are identified, they need to be prosecuted and publicly outed as insurrectionists who participated in an attempted coup of the US government.

    2. That’s a myth. One doesn’t “shoot-to-kill” but shoots-not-to-miss, i.e. center-of-mass. There are a lot of vital organs in the human chest so being shot there can frequently be lethal. Cops know from decades of real-world scenarios that shooting-to-wound, say in the leg, is fraught with problems (the threat is not neutralized, high chance of missing and initiating a firefight that gets more people hurt, etc.). There are non-lethal ways to try to incapacitate people (tear gas, pepper spray, tasers, etc.) but they have mixed success. Those were in use in the Capitol too on this day.

      1. I’m not sure what “myth” you are addressing. This person could have been shot in the leg and the effect would have been the same. She was outside the door, and it would have “neutralized” her unless she were carrying high explosives.

        You arguet that if he had shot her in the leg he might have missed and shot someone else’s leg. The same argument applies even more strongly to a shot in the chest of a person in a crowd. A bullet might go through her chest and cause a life-threatening wound to someone else. Better to shoot for a leg; at worst, you will slightly injure someone else.

        1. To the best of my knowledge, no police in the US are taught to fire non lethally. It’s simply not practical. With a handgun it’s very difficuly, even at close range, to hit the center of someone’s body in a stressful situation. The capitol officer probably aimed for her body but still, she was hit in the neck. Exceedingly few people could make an aimed, non lethal shot in this situation.

          1. If a person has such difficulty hitting a large slow-moving target at such close range, then maybe he shouldn’t shoot at all at that point, because she was surrounded by other people at her side and behind her.

            1. I would agree that firing in a crowded area is extremely dangerous. However I don’t know what the officer’s assignment was or why they felt the need to use lethal force. However, the second video shows the gun was draw and aimed at the rioters for close to 13 seconds so it wasn’t a snap decision.

              I do think you’re underestimating the difficulty of situation. From the first video the woman jumped up into the window frame and was shot in roughly one second.

              1. Yes, it’s true that I (we) don’t know the full situation, and I am not passing judgement, just making observations. And I grant that in ths case, it might have been impossible or dangerous t try to shoot her in the leg. I was (and remain) unsure whether the round would penetrate her body at this close range.

                But I think I am right in the general case. In nearly all the controversial police shootings that have recieves wide publicity, a shot to the legs would be about as easy as a shot to the torso and typically no one is behind the victim. In general, it seems wrong to me to aim for the center of mass as the default, and I think this is a flaw in police training. The two legs combined have a cross-section similar in width to the torso, so I don’t buy the argument about difficulty in most cases. I’m willing to change that belief if other reasons are given.

        2. I’m presuming that you haven’t shot many handguns before and don’t know much about bullet ballistic behavior. Trying to shoot her in the leg even at close distance (which move quickly as she jumps through a window) is a difficult target to hit. I’m pretty sure that you would miss if I gave you a 0.40 caliber pistol even in a simulation. The risk is that if this cop missed, that bullet goes right through that door and hits what? Probably another protestor or a cop or perhaps nothing of consequence. In other words, he might accidently kill someone who shouldn’t be inside the Capitol but isn’t seeking to infiltrate where they’ve chosen to take a stand to protect the Senators. What if they shoot her in the leg or miss? That risks antagonizing the riotors, many of whom were armed, and invite one or several of them to poke a barrel through that window and just start firing. Seeing someone shot go down though tends to deter others from going near that opening to fire back or risk climbing through that window.

          Bullets tend not to go all the way through human torsos. They certainly tend to go through a leg unless they hit a femur. Hitting a femoral artery is lethal. So shooting someone who is an immediate threat who is jumping through a window (despite the many guns clearly pointed right at her) through the leg risks killing someone behind her who is not an imminent threat. It becomes a moral dilemma to defend innocent people by shooting through a perpetrator only to kill another innocent behind them, no? If you think this is too hypothetical then you need to learn more on this subject because this is why law enforcement is trained this way.

          The myth is that cops “shoot to kill”. They really shoot to incapacitate. I’m sure no cop, forced into that terrible choice would really choose for that person to die. Would you? They want them to live and stand trial. But they can’t afford for a suspect to be slightly wounded only to pull out their own gun and start shooting back or take a hostage.

          1. Agreed. Shooting to wound is not an option. There are too many movies showing Clint Eastwood types shooting guns out of someone’s hand at a distance of 20 feet, shooting from the hip! Shoot to stop, aiming at the centre of body mass.

    3. Officers are trained to immobilize (take down) potential threats. They aim for the torso. And, good luck trying to hit a leg or something. (“Shoulder wound”! Ha!) A ruptured femoral artery kills very quickly.

      If you don’t shoot to kill, the perp. pulls their gun and kills you.

  25. I find the question “Did she deserve to die?” vague.

    Did she do something so heinous that her punishment should be death? No.

    Did she do something that was in such poor judgement that death was a strong possibility? Yes.

    Was the person who directly caused her death justified in their actions? Don’t know. Wait for the investigation.

    Were the people who created the situation in which she could put herself in harm’s way culpable? I think so but each will have to be evaluated separately. Trump called for them to go to the Capitol and may have prevented the deployment of adequate law enforcement. Possibly the Capitol police severely underestimated the threat.

  26. ALL of those people deserved to be shot, not only her.

    Furthermore, she and Trump both violated their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.

  27. The police inside the building are charged with protecting the members of the government. This was an act of American domestic terrorism and it is to be expected that lethal force could come into play. What was in all those backpacks the dead woman and many others were wearing? Could’ve been concealed weapons or explosives. The police inside were over-run and many of them were injured. The National Guard was not sent by the prez to secure the perimeter of the building or help the people inside. Later they were seen to be just directing traffic. Very bad outcome and optics against what happened during the recent peaceful race protests.

    McConnell’s wife has resigned. All those who coddled and humoured this Caligula emperor-wannabe are complicit in this national debacle and disgrace.

    One thing I’m sure of is that d’Rump has burned his bridges and those of his spawn and in-laws and none of them will ever be elected to public office. Mud, I say, thy name is Mud.

      1. What should be investigated is the abject security failure at the Capitol, and the actions of tRump who is ultimately responsible for the deaths that occured.

  28. “Nothing will stop us….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!”, she wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

    WRONG! Dark to permanent dark.

    1. According to a lot of Republicans, the people who broke in were antifascists pretending to be Trumpists, let in by left-wing people in charge! 🤣

      It IS the poison of religion that makes America so … mad!

    2. Once again you make mockery of someone’s death. But you’re banned now, and can’t reply. I don’t want people like you on my website, people who say, as you did, that EVERYONE who was inside the Capitol should have been shot. What a cold, cold heart.

  29. Wow! As a foreign bystander, I am stunned looking at the CNN images streaming on my screen. I wish the best for the USA and that peace and democracy prevails.

  30. I think the more important question is how did this woman get inside in the first place.

    A disastrous start to the Biden administration, and it will be all down hill from here until sometime after 20th. Then the US has an armed radicalised militia openly opposing not only the government, but the whole idea of government. This is a massive victory for them.

    And worse, a massive victory for other dictators around the world who are snickering at the security breach and the massive victory for Trump, while also saying “See- this is why we have to arrest all protestors.” The US no longer stands for democracy.

    1. Yes, the Chinese authorities have been happily saying there is no difference between their suppression of a crowd that broke into the Hong Kong legislature and the US authorities actions to quell the crowd attacking the Capitol. The big difference of course is that the HK protestors were fighting to try and protect democracy whilst the Washington protestors were trying to overturn a democratic election with violence.

  31. Dear PCC(E),

    I respect you greatly for valuing all human life. I certainly didn’t want that woman, or anyone else, to die. But it’s one thing to condemn the shooter from the comfort of our own homes, without fear for our safety, and it’s something else entirely to have to make split-second decisions when the adrenaline is skyrocketing and a violent mob is breaking in. I mean, should/could the shooter have done something differently? Probably. What was the best thing to do under the circumstances? I have no idea.

    Imagine if the opposite had happened: nobody shot at the woman, she managed to break through (possibly followed by other rioters), and she ended up hurting or killing a Senator or Representative. Can you imagine the recriminations that would have been directed at the security forces then? I just feel the security people were in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

    The finger of blame should be pointed at the seditious scumbag who incited the riot in the first place.

    1. Why don’t we just wait and see what the investigation of the shooter turns up? He could be exonerated or found culpable, and I’ll let the authorities decide that. I have reserved judgement but raised questions, but I have NOT said that she got what was coming to her. Neither have I, as the comment above implies, passed judgement on the shooter from the comfort of my home.

  32. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of an armed society that law enforcement must assume that perpetrators are armed, too. Especially that corner of society.

    From what I saw, Trumpists seemed more boisterous than angry. It’s all pretty incongruous, because supposedly, they saw someone shot, too, and that must have happened before some waltzed out later, triumphantly, and apparently unhindered and unfazed.

    Pictures also showed people with overt white supremacist imagery, shirts, flags and tattoos. Some of that must have been hard to overlook, like the white power flag hung from a wall. And of course, people in the crowd know from their gatherings and online groups what kind of company they keep. One image showed nooses for opponents, which symbolises opinions that are also prevalent in that corner. All things considered, this is clearly a threatening scenario for anyone caught inside. And if you were in the crowd outside you must know that you would look intimidating and dangerous. It’s also common sense that the high officials inside would be protected by armed guards.

    The real mystery is why do they seem to be boisterous and apparently untroubled, in stark contrast to the gravity of the situation. They seem to think they merely swarm a Walmart on a Black Friday sale. Could it be that their conspiracies, the speeches by Republicans (and Trump) and the little resistance, unprepared or even supportive cops on their way gave them a false sense of confidence that they would just walk in and out to make their point?

    A lot of things went wrong long before any shot was fired.

  33. Whilst we are waiting on the outcome of any official investigation, there is an interesting narrative account of her movements based on open source information here: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2021/01/08/the-journey-of-ashli-babbitt/

    In particular, it seems to confirm that the protesters were meters away from the house chamber and that there were likely representatives still in the chamber or close by at the time. It contradicts my earlier post slightly in that the shot was fired from a room opposite the chamber rather than from the chamber itself.

    Without prejudging this incident, it was entirely predictable that allowing violent protesters within meters of senior elected officials would lead to lethal use of force, either by miscalculation or necessity.

    In the presence of specific and detailed intelligence (published openly online no less) that protesters planned to storm the building and kill senators and representatives, there is no excuse for this situation not being prevented. I hope and trust that investigations into senior security officials will be at least as rigorous as the investigation into the actions of this single police officer.

    1. Apologies for replying to my own post, but another relevant detail that I have just noticed:
      In the second video posted, you can clearly see that when the shooter moves forward to fire, two other figures simultaneously move forward from other doorways on the same side of the lobby and at least one (probably both) is aiming a handgun at the woman climbing through the window.

      To me, that strongly suggest that this was a predetermined threshold rather than a snap decision by an individual officer. I would guess that at least some of the representatives had been evacuated from the chamber into the rooms on the West side of the lobby and the officers were ordered (or agreed amongst themselves) that anyone entering the lobby would be shot.

  34. As a Brit I must say that one of the things that surprises me about US police enforcement is the sheer number of police forces involved. Now I know that DC is possibly a special case but a quick glance at Wiki shows that there are literally dozens of either local or federal agencies who have some form of presence, even down to, for crying out loud, a police force for the cathedral! (I have to admit that I find the idea of university police forces a bit strange). The possibility for turf wars, for lapses in communication, for cock ups in general between various forces seems to me to be obvious. A comparison with London is instructive: there is the Met, the City of London police and (IIRC) about three non-territorial forces ( the most conspicuous being the British Transport Police). Cities outside of London have even fewer: Birmingham ( pop over a million) in practical terms just has two: West Midlands Police and BTP.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_law_enforcement_agencies_in_the_District_of_Columbia

    1. Watching events in the USA over that last 9 months, do you think fewer cops would work better? Good luck trying to sell that to the electorate.

      Yes, our governance system is different from the UK. Meh. The UK is comparable (area, population, economy) to the single state of California.

      1. It is not the number of police that I find surprising, it is their organisation. You mentioned California. Again according to Wiki, there are 509 law enforcement agencies in that state. In the UK there are 43 territorial police forces and 3 (specialist) ones. I know that the the US’s governance is very different but all the same.

  35. The investigation is not complete, though I found the woman’s behavior completely unacceptable.

    I just wanted to say that I appreciate the humanity shown here by Jerry Coyne. It’s not something to take for granted while I notice many extremely ugly posts on social media and the future looks worse and worse.

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