“If she was your friend, you needed no other friend.”
That’s how Aaron Babbitt describes his wife, Ashli Babbitt, 35, the U.S. Air Force veteran shot and killed outside the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
What started as a patriotic day with a speech by President Donald Trump ended with violence—none more brutal than the near-point-blank shooting of Ashli Babbitt.
Aaron Babbitt tells a favorite story about how his wife saw a woman running madly down the street one day, so she pulled her car over to see what was wrong.
“She pulled over: ‘Are you okay?’ ‘I’m late to a job interview,’” he recalls in a new documentary that shines new light on that fateful day and events that followed.
“Ashli brought that girl to her job interview and three days later, that woman came down to our office and gave her a hug and said, ‘I got that job and it’s ’cause you got me there on time.’”
The interview with Babbitt is the most powerful moment in the 1 hour 38 minute “Capitol Punishment,” directed by Chris Burgard and produced by Nick Searcy. Babbitt recounts how he found out that his wife had been shot during rioting at the U.S. Capitol. He describes the pain of dealing with such an unimaginable loss.
“Hundred and forty seven days since my wife was murdered, executed,” Babbitt said. “Every day that goes by, it’s just another twist in the knife in my gut.”
The film’s opening segment shows Ashli Babbitt walking from Trump’s speech at the Ellipse to the U.S. Capitol.
“There’s an estimated over 3 million people here today,” she says in footage recorded with her phone. “So despite what the media tells you, boots on the ground definitely say different. There is a sea of nothing but red, white, and blue, and patriots and Trump.
“It was amazing to see the president talk. We are now walking down the inaugural path to the Capitol building.
“Three million plus people. God bless America, patriots.”
Two and a half hours later, she was dead.
Ashli Babbitt was shot in the upper left shoulder as she tried to climb through a smashed oval window in a door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby. As her head and shoulders emerged part way through the window, she was shot by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd. The Washington D.C. medical examiner ruled her death a homicide. One week later, the U.S. Department of Justice decided not to bring charges against Byrd.
According to Searcy, the film’s focus on Babbitt is an effort to counter the scorn directed at her by the left.
“We wanted to humanize people, especially Ashli Babbitt,” Searcy told The Epoch Times. “She had been so vilified in the press and lied about, and her murderer was basically exonerated without even looking at what he did. So we wanted to humanize her and tell everybody this was not some crazed right-wing terrorist. This is a lovely woman who served her country for 11 years, signed up when she was 17. Very patriotic, somebody that you would be proud to live next to.”
“Capitol Punishment” challenges the dominant media narrative that a wild, lawless mob of Trump supporters tried to overthrow the U.S. government in a violent insurrection. The film makes a powerful statement—a dramatic telling of the Jan. 6 story from the perspective of the massive Trump contingent that came from every corner of the republic on Jan. 6.
The film—available on a streaming platform for $9.99—stakes out territory that will draw howls of protest from some quarters as conspiracy theories and misinformation.
Among the premises in “Capitol Punishment” is that the federal government played a central role in planning and directing the unrest. Government informants and as-yet-unidentified operatives set up the first breach of police lines, helped lay a trespassing trap for unsuspecting thousands of rally-goers who arrived later, and deftly instigated con…