WASHINGTON — Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is defending his department’s response to Wednesday’s violent breach at the Capitol, and giving more details about the shooting that left Ashli Babbitt dead.
In a statement Thursday, he said officers “acted valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions" as they stormed the Capitol. He said rioters “actively attacked” Capitol police and other law enforcement officers Wednesday "with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers. They were determined to enter the Capitol Building by causing great damage."
The police chief said more than 50 Capitol and Metropolitan officers sustained injuries, and that several of his officers were hospitalized with "serious injuries."
"As protesters were forcing their way toward the House Chamber where Members of Congress were sheltering
in place, a sworn USCP employee discharged their service weapon, striking an adult female," Sund said. The woman, identified as Babbitt, later succumbed to her injuries.
As per Capitol Police policy, the employee who fired the shot has been placed on administrative leave, and police powers suspended until a joint investigation with the Metropolitan Police Department is done.
While members of the U.S. Capitol Police were dealing with violent protesters at the Capitol, they also responded to reports of at least two pipe bombs and a suspicious vehicle in the area, Sund said.
Police "determined both devices were, in fact, hazardous and could cause great harm to public safety," and they were turned over to the FBI for further investigation.
The vehicle was cleared, and the vehicle's owner along with 13 others were arrested Wednesday by Capitol police members.
"The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. But make no mistake - these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior," Chief Sund said.
Sund’s statement came after lawmakers from both parties vowed an investigation into how law enforcement handled the violent breach at the Capitol and questioned whether a lack of preparedness allowed a mob to occupy and vandalize the building.