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The U.S. Department of Justice will not file charges against a U.S. Capitol police officer who fatally shot a woman during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The officer has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing for fatally shooting Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt as she tried to breach a set of doors leading to the Speaker's Lobby, just outside the House chamber where some lawmakers were sheltered during the violent siege, reported the Washington Post.
Investigators said there was not enough evidence to prove the 35-year-old Babbitt's civil rights were violated, and said it was reasonable for the officer to believe he was firing in self-defense or to defend members of Congress and their aides.
Prosecutors did not release the officer's name.
Cell phone video from inside the Capitol shows Babbitt and a group of Donald Trump's supporters trying to break through barricaded doors with a helmet, their feet and a flagpole.
An officer wearing a suit and surgical mask then fired a single shot as Babbitt, who was wearing a Trump flag as a cape, tried to crawl through a broken glass pane into the Speaker's Lobby, and she later died from her wound.
"The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242," the Justice Department said in a statement. "Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber. Acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences to Ms. Babbitt's family, the U.S. Attorney's Office and U.S. Department of Justice have therefore closed the investigation into this matter."
A US documentary team are set to chase down the Holy Grail of Golden Era Hollywood: the missing reels of Orson Welles's 1942 classic "The Magnificent Ambersons".
Director Joshua Grossberg has been on the trail for 25 years and plans to travel this autumn to Brazil to look for the missing footage, with his hunt recorded for Turner Classic Movies (TCM).
Following disastrous test screenings, Welles was fired from "The Magnificent Ambersons" and the studio RKO cut 43 minutes from his version and reshot multiple scenes including the ending.
"The original, excised footage was melted down for its nitrate for use in World War II," the documentary-makers said in a statement. "However, even in its mutilated form, the film is still considered a classic."
Welles considered the edited version a travesty and the episode all but ended his involvement with the major studios.
Grossberg hopes a cut of the film might have stayed with Welles as he headed to Brazil for his next project, "It's All True".
A Brazilian film archivist told him in the 1990s that he had seen cannisters comprising the 131-minute version 30 years earlier.
"We know it's a long shot but if these guys are able to find Orson Welles' version of the film it would be one of the greatest discoveries in the history of cinema," said Charlie Tabesh of TCM in a statement.
"Considering the missing full-length version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis was discovered in an Argentine museum in 2008, it's entirely possible the lost print of Ambersons survives somewhere in Brazil," added Grossberg.
Film restorer Serge Bromberg told AFP that it was a quixotic quest.
"I have also searched for these reels, which were said to be in France, but they weren't," said Bromberg, though he agreed it was a mission worth undertaking.
© 2021 AFP
A former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate has been arrested by police in Colorado and charged with felony criminal extortion as well as misdemeanor ethnic intimidation harassment and theft, the Aspen Daily News reports.
Mark Aspiri, who unsuccessfully ran a campaign for the Republican nomination to oppose then-Sen. Mark Udall in 2014, allegedly targeted a random victim in a plot to harass, threaten and extort $1,200 from a Latino man.
"Aspiri allegedly told the victim the money was owed to a third party — but could provide little to no information in the way of why the money was owed or to whom, exactly," reports the Aspen Daily News. "The victim terminated the call and, after receiving several additional calls from Aspiri, blocked the phone number."
A Glenwood Springs Police Department press release says Aspiri began calling from different numbers, and his "associates" did as well.
"After receiving numerous threatening calls, the victim became very scared. Mr. Aspiri told him that he knew the victim, 'was here illegally.' He made several other similar statements threatening to have the victim deported. He demanded payment that day as the next day would be too late," the release stated. "The victim told Mr. Aspiri that he was afraid of him and asked him to stop calling and making the threats. Friends of the victim told the victim that Mr. Aspiri is very powerful and influential, and he should just pay him."
Aspiri allegedly told the victim to Google him to find out who he was.
The victim's alleged immigration status was reportedly used against him in the extortion plot.
"On another occasion, Mr. Aspiri again demanded payment that day. He said, 'tonight is your opportunity and believe me, you don't want any problems with me.' He again referenced the victim being in the United States unlawfully which was a theme woven throughout the interactions," the press release reads.
The victim ended up paying Aspiri $500.
"It was reported that Mr. Aspiri told an attorney retained by the victim's family that he has, 'done this often and gotten thousands of dollars from people,'" according to the press release.
After his arrest, Aspiri was released from jail, pending a hearing in Garfield County District Court.
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