Judicial Watch: New Documents reveal the DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Submitted a Request to Cremate Ashli Babbitt Two Days after Gaining Custody of Her Body
(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that it received 1160 pages of documents from Washington, DC’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) related to Air Force veteran and San Diego native Ashli Babbitt. These new documents reveal that OCME submitted a request for permission to cremate Babbitt only two days after taking custody of her body and that ‘due to the “high profile nature” of Babbitt’s case, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz requested that a secure electronic file with limited access be created for Babbitt’s records.
Additionally, Babbitt’s fingerprints were emailed to a person supposedly working for the DC government, which resulted in Microsoft “undeliverable” messages written in Chinese characters being returned.
Babbitt was shot and killed by an unidentified law enforcement officer as she attempted to climb through a broken interior window in the Capitol Building, located outside the Speaker’s Lobby off the House Floor during the January 6 disturbance. She was unarmed. At the time of the shooting, several officers reportedly can be seen in videos, standing in the crowd of protestors in which Babbitt was present.
The records were obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning two FOIA requests submitted by Judicial Watch on April 8, 2021 to the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for records related to Babbitt’s death (Judicial Watch v. The District of Columbia (No. 2021 CA 001710 B)).
The newly obtained records reveal:
- On January 8, 2021, at 7:13 p.m., an application to cremate the body of Babbitt is labeled “completed successfully.” Copies of the permit are sent to OCME officials Kimberli Hall and SaVern Fripp, as well as Melinda Smith, Jennifer Love, Lisa Tabron, Jeanette Belle, and Perlieshia Gales.
- In a January 6, 2021, email sent at 9:48 p.m. from OCME official Denise Lyles to medical examiner Francisco Diaz, the subject line is, “Case #21-00106 ID Confirmed.” [Case 21-00106 was Ashli Babbitt’s file number.]
- On January 6, 2021, at 9:43 p.m., Lyles emails OCME official Dr. Jennifer Love an attachment with the message, “I am updating the information we received from IAD [Internal Affairs Division] re the confirmed ID for OCME Case #21-00106 [Ashli Babbitt’s case]. These are the prints that returned from the FBI, that the detectives from IAD provided. I dropped them in the e-case file. Their names are noted below.”
Lyles appears to have forwarded the file after having received it at 9:33 p.m. on January 6 from someone (whose name is redacted) within the Prince George’s County, MD, Police Criminal Investigation Division, assigned to the “Homicide Unit – FBI/Cross Border Task Force.” The file had been sent to that person at 9:30 p.m. on January 6 from someone with the email address [email protected].
- On January 6, 2021, at 7:42 p.m., OCME official Jamie Spann emailed a scanned file called “21-00106 FBI Submission Form” to Grant Greenwalt, Manager of the Crime Scenes Sciences unit of the DC Department of Forensic Sciences, as well as someone with the email address [email protected], and copying medical examiners Francisco Diaz and Jennifer Love, asking, “Please run the attached prints.” This document contained Ashli Babbitt’s fingerprints.
Greeenwalt forwards the request to David Chumbley, an officer of the DC Police Department. Chumbley forwards the prints on from his iPhone at 8:06 p.m. on January 6 to someone identified as Jamese Kororma within the DC government. The email sent to “Jamese Kororma” resulted in multiple Microsoft “undeliverable” messages being returned, written in what appear to be Chinese characters.
- On January 7, 2021, Forensics photographer Matthew Brown emailed OCME colleagues regarding Babbitt’s case with “High” importance,” stating, “Due to the high-profile nature of case 21-00106, Dr. Diaz has requested limited access to this case. Please create a secure folder on the photo server for case 21-00106 and provide access only to the following OCME staff: Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Diaz, Anna Francis, Matthew Brown.”
Brown adds, “Currently there are no images or folders on the photo server for this case. The images are being held on the OCME archiving server until a secure folder is created.”
Michael Coleman, OCME’s Chief Information Officer, responded two hours later, “The requested directory has been created with the stipulated access granted. Please let me know if any additional adjustments are required.”
Brown replies, “Thank you Mike. The case photos are now available on the server.”
Responding separately to Coleman, OCME Records Manager Anna Francis says, “I have restricted the e-case file as well. For work purposes, the following groups have access, please let me know if permissions should be limited further: 1. Anna Francis; 2. MLI Investigations; 3. Medical Examiners; 4. Michael Coleman; 5. Roger Mitchell; 6. QC-n-RecMgmt; 7. Investigators.”
- In a January 14, 2021, email from Deputy Chief Toxicologist Stephen Raso to OCME colleague Samantha Tolliver with the subject “Capital Riot Cases,” Raso states, “See attached prelim results.”
- In a February 2, 2021, email from OCME official Andrea Pugh to medical examiner Dr. Francisco Diaz, Pugh indicated that the preliminary toxicology report on Babbitt was completed.
- On January 13, 2021, Dr. Francisco Diaz emailed Chief Medical Examiner/Deputy Mayor Roger Mitchell with the note, “21-00106: COD-Gunshot wound to left anterior shoulder. MOD-Homicide.” Note: COD is “Cause of Death” and MOD means “Manner of Death.”
- The OCME did not release cause and manner of Babbitt’s death until April 7, 2021:
Ashli Babbitt, 35 years old:
Cause of Death – Gunshot wound to the left anterior shoulder
Manner of Death – Homicide
- In a January 8, 2021, email, Lead Forensic Investigator Rebecca Wood tells OCME officials, “I spoke with the family for the above case and her legal last name is ‘Babbitt.’ CMS has been updated to reflect this change, please update the death certificate as well.”
- In a January 8, 2021, email sent at 3:45 p.m., OCME official Denise Lyles messages her OCME colleagues with the subject “Capitol Incident Cases,” and notes “FYI, all the cases from the Capitol Incident all Identifications have been confirmed,” adding, “Ashli Elizabeth Pamatian aka A. Babbitt – partner/husband notified.”
- The records include identification records for “Ashli Elizabeth Pamatian,” including a copy of an FBI fingerprint submission card, a State Department visa check record “for identification purposes,” and a separate FBI fingerprint submission card that indicated that the “Official Taking Fingerprints” in the Babbitt case was “E. Betts.”
Additionally, Babbitt’s body was listed as “Unidentified female” and “WF.”
The DC government form included in the records states: “The District of Columbia Office of Chief Medical Examiner has recovered human remains and is requesting AFIS fingerprint database searches for identification purposes,” and the “transaction type” on the form indicates “Unidentified Deceased (DEU Transaction).
The comments section notes, “Please attempt to identify this unidentified female who was discovered deceased on 01/06/2021 in Washington, DC.” The form asks the response to be faxed to OCME. official Jennifer Love. An X-ray log sheet indicates that three “LODOX” images of Babbitt’s body were taken by a technician with the initials RK.
- In an email on January 18, 2021, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz sends an attachment with Babbitt’s case file number to OCME officials Kristina Giese and Kimberly Golden stating, “Please review this homicide.”
- In an email on March 1, 2021, OCME official Cheryle Adams messaged colleagues Beverly Fields and Dr. Francisco Diaz (copying Mayor’s office spokeswoman Olivia Dedner), advising them that she was providing an updated spreadsheet of reporters seeking information on the people who died at “the January 6, 2021, Insurrection at the Capitol.
“There is intense public interest in the shooting of Ashli Babbitt at the Capitol on January 6,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The continued secrecy and delayed release of information about the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt are suspicious and smacks of politics. That Americans still have no information about who killed her or any police report about her death is a scandal of epic proportions.”
The Metropolitan Police Department has not yet responded to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request. This document release is part of Judicial Watch’s ongoing investigation into the January 6 disturbance.
In March, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the District of Columbia for documents about the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Pressure from this lawsuit helped lead to the disclosure that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes.
Judicial Watch also filed lawsuits for U.S. Capitol Police emails and video related to the riot and for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s communications with the Pentagon in the days after the January 6 incident.