MPD Chief Says US Attorney “No Where Near” Deciding if Officer Will Be Charged in Insurrection Death
By Larry Janezich
Posted February 4, 2021
Mayor Bowser held a Situational Briefing today along with MPD Chief Robert Contee and Director of the DC Department of Health, LaQuandra Nesbitt. In the Q&A after the Mayor’s presentation on the status of Covid – 19 vaccination efforts, Chief Contee was asked for an update on two deaths which occurred during the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 – those of Officer Brian Sicknick and Ashley Babbitt. Contee said the US Attorney’s office was “no where near making a determination” whether a US Capitol Police officer will be charged in the shooting of Babbit during the insurrection on January 6. He said that media reports of a preliminary determination that the Capitol Police officer who shot Babbitt will not be charged are “totally false”. The investigation is in the very early stages and MPD is working in “tight coordination” with the US Attorney’s Office. That office did a walkthrough of the scene of the shooting on Friday.
MPD and the Chief Medical Examiner are in charge of investigating deaths in the District of Columbia – in deaths involving an officer it is several months before a determination is made.
In apparent reference to Officer Sicknick, Contee said that the Chief Medical Examiner will make a recommendation about the manner and cause of death once there is a “better understanding” of what we are dealing with.
In response to another reporter’s question, Contee said that MPD had issued a concealed carry permit to Representative Lauren Bobert (R-CO) and that MPD had reached out to Boebert as he said they would do regarding the video she circulated asserting that she would carry her handgun in DC. Contee said much of the video was taped on the US Capitol Grounds and although Boebert allowed the viewer to infer she was armed, she never displayed a weapon. He said that a permit application had been in the works. Asked by a reporter if other members of Congress had concealed carry permits, Contee said he was not sure but given the thousands of permits MPD has issued, there were probably others.
Also during the Q&A, Bowser was asked to comment about the fence which cordons off much of the complex of federal buildings on Capitol Hill and downtown Washington. She said she first she wanted to talk about the solemn ceremony in remembrance of Officer Sicknick at the US Capitol which she and Chief Contee attended. She said she didn’t fully appreciate the trauma that members of Congress and their staff went through and the fear they are living with – members of the Capitol Police force as well experienced trauma as did members of the MPD. “Those people were scared for their lives’, she said, “and I want to say how sorry I am and that my heart goes out to them.” An investigation and security re-boot is under way to consider how to secure the building without locking out the public. Bowser said we want the members, building and ground to be secure – safe but not fenced off. “The fence sends a broader message about democracy from our nation’s Capital to the rest of the world”, she said, “I’m confident the people involved will find a more robust security posture without fencing off the Capitol.”
Other takeaways from the briefing:
- Nesbitt: Some federal entities get vaccines from the federal government, including DOD, Homeland Security, Bureau of Prisons, and Veteran Administration. Veterans over 65 years old may be able to get vaccinated through VA medical Centers. Call 202 745 8000 or visit https://www.va.gov/
- Nesbitt: It’s very difficult to predict whether we will have a surge caused by a variant in immediate future. It depends on how closely we adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions. A variant has been presented as dominant in some countries but whether it will become dominant in our region is unknown. Note of the three main variants have been seen in DC yet.
- Nesbitt: The percentage of DC residents who have received the vaccine is 0.9% – the higher figures reported by the media do not take into account the number of non-residents we have vaccinated, and are based on the total number of shots administered which gives a higher figure.
- Nesbitt: It would not be a good idea to concentrate all manufacturing efforts on the two vaccines currently approved. The greater number of vaccines being produced by a larger number of manufacturers will mean a greater overall supply of vaccine that we can get out to the public as well as provide greater confidence in the supply chain. Having 6 or 7 manufacturers will greatly enhance our ability to vaccinate or population in a shorter time.
- Bowser: The DC Hospitality Alliance has special deals at hotels, DC attractions, restaurants and local businesses for the military, law enforcement officers, and first responders. DC wants to invite them and their families to visit DC. See here: https://washington.org/dcsalutesyou
- Contee: MPD has formed a Car Jacking Taskforce in partnership with the FBI to address the spike in car jackings which is occurring here but is also widespread across the country. A major cause is people leaving their cars running while unattended. People should use caution and perhaps avoid sitting in their cars to eat or check cell phones.