Ashli Babbitt has been heralded by Trump and his MAGA supporters as a martyr, but the reality tells a vastly different story.
Babbitt, 35, was an Air Force veteran who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police police officer as she attempted to climb through a broken window of a door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby inside the U.S. Capitol during the terrorist attack on Jan. 6.
Since her death, former President Donald Trump has praised Babbitt, calling her an “innocent, wonderful, and incredible woman,” taped a posthumous video for her birthday, and demanded the Justice Department reopen an investigation into her death. Trump supporters idealize her as a soldier for justice who was wrongfully murdered. Her name and photo have been emblazoned on T-shirts and flags at Trump rallies.
However, Associated Press spoke with a woman by the name of Celeste Norris who says the Babbitt she knew was dangerous and violent. “I lived in fear because I didn’t know what she was capable of,” Norris told the AP. “I was constantly looking over my shoulder.”
Norris’ first encounter with Babbitt took place on July 29, 2016, when Norris says Babbitt rammed her SUV in a road-rage incident in Prince Frederick, Maryland.
“She pulls up yelling and screaming,” Norris told AP. “It took me a good 30 seconds to figure out who she was. … Just all sorts of expletives, telling me to get out of the car, that she was going to beat my ass.”
Norris says Babbitt had been having an affair with her boyfriend, so Norris called Babbitt’s husband and told him.
Norris was in a six-year relationship with Aaron Babbitt when she discovered he’d been having an affair with Babbitt, who then went by her married name Ashli McEntee. Her ex-husband’s name is Timothy McEntee.
“He was telling me about this foulmouthed chick that’s on his shift, blah, blah, blah,” Norris said. “Come to find out a few months later ... they were basically having this relationship while they were at work.”
On the day that Norris was hit by Babbitt, she told AP she was sitting at a stop sign. A white Ford Explorer passed her going in the opposite direction. The SUV made a U-turn and then began speeding up behind her, forcing the car between them to move aside. When Babbitt got behind Norris she rammed her rear bumper, and then again and then again all while the two SUVs drove down the road.
Babbitt got out of her car and began banging on Norris’ window. Norris says she had no idea initially who Babbitt was, so she called 911. Deputies arrived within minutes.
On the day of the altercation, Norris says she was so shaken by the event she went with a friend and filed a peace order, a kind of restraining order, against Babbitt.
Babbitt initially claimed the accident happened because Norris had backed her car into her SUV, but once the case went to trial, Norris told AP, Babbitt admitted to colliding with Norris but alleged it was an accident.
AP reports that Babbitt was issued a criminal summons on charges of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor defined under Maryland law as engaging in conduct “that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another” and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. She was also charged with malicious destruction of property for the damage to Norris’ SUV, and later reckless driving, negligent driving, and failure to control a vehicle’s speed to avoid a collision.
A year later, Norris filed another restraining order against Babbitt citing harassment and stalking. Norris says Babbitt called her repeatedly in the middle of the night and was following her.
In 2019, Norris filed a personal injury suit against Babbitt seeking $74,500 in damages. The case was settled with Babbitt’s insurance.
AP reports that in the months prior to her death, Babbitt had become obsessed with the “big lie,” and made numerous violent threats on her now-defunct social media platforms. She railed against Democrats and was a devout anti-masker, QAnon follower, and xenophobe.
The day before the insurrection, Babbitt tweeted, “Nothing will stop us,” and “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!”
Aaron Babbitt’s attorney, Terrell Roberts III, has said the shooting “was tantamount to an execution without trial.” Adding: “Given her background as a 14-year veteran of the Air Force, it is likely that Ashli would have complied with simple verbal commands, thereby making the use of any force unnecessary.”
Roberts has raised over $375,000 via a Christian crowdfunding site and has threatened to file a wrongful lawsuit against the Capitol Police for his Babbitt’s death, AP reports. Roberts alleges that Babbitt, a 5-foot-2 and 115-pound former military police officer, “could have been stopped by a single trained officer” and that Babbitt “was entitled to a warning and chance to surrender before she was shot to death.”
Lt. Michael Byrd, the Capitol Police officer who shot Babbitt, was cleared by both the U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, finding that he acted in defense of members of Congress and in self-defense.
“I tried to wait as long as I could,” Byrd told NBC News. “I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors. But their failure to comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”
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