November 30, 2021

Michael Byrd, officer who shot Ashli Babbitt during Jan. 6 Capitol riots, reveals identity, speaks out

WASHINGTON — The veteran US Capitol Police officer who killed pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt went public Thursday, revealing his identification and defending his actions on January 6.

“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Lt. Michael Byrd mentioned in an interview with “NBC Nightly News.” “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”

The officer fatally shot Babbitt within the shoulder whereas she climbed by way of a window that led into the Speaker’s Foyer, adjoining to the Home chamber, whereas lawmakers have been evacuating.

“I tried to wait as long as I could,” Byrd mentioned of the incident within the doorway. “I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors. But their failure to comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”

The Justice Division mentioned in April that Byrd would not be criminally charged in reference to Babbitt’s loss of life, and the US Capitol Police mentioned final week that he would not face any inside self-discipline. He might nonetheless face civil litigation from Babbitt’s household, which has threatened a lawsuit.

A Washington native who has been in legislation enforcement for 28 years, Byrd mentioned he adopted his coaching and repeatedly yelled on the mob, telling them to cease their advance towards the Home chamber.

He mentioned he was “taking a tactical stance” together with his gun drawn whereas the mob approached. “You’re ultimately hoping that your commands would be complied with. Unfortunately, they were not.”

‘I simply need the reality to be advised’

Within the seven months because the revolt, former President Donald Trump and his allies have tried to border a story round Babbitt’s loss of life and turned her right into a martyr in right-wing circles.

Trump mentioned Babbitt, a QAnon supporter and Air Pressure veteran, was an “innocent, wonderful, incredible woman.” During a Fox Information interview, Trump additionally falsely accused the officer of taking pictures Babbitt within the head. Republican lawmakers additionally peddled deceptive claims concerning the incident, claiming Byrd was “lying in wait” to kill Babbitt and “executed” her in chilly blood.

Within the interview with “NBC Nightly News,” Byrd mentioned Trump’s feedback have been “disheartening,” and denied that he acted out of political animus. He protected Trump during his presidency when he visited the Capitol.

“I hope they understand I did my job,” Byrd mentioned of the Republicans who’ve criticized him. “There was imminent threat and danger to the members of Congress. I just want the truth to be told.”

Most of the conspiracies have been fueled by the dearth of transparency from Capitol Police and the investigators who reviewed the incident. Byrd spoke out on his personal accord and has by no means been named by any authorities entity, although it is common in lots of jurisdictions for police departments to publicly launch the names of officers who are concerned in deadly shootings.

Uncertainty about Byrd’s identification created a brand new rallying cry — “who shot Ashli Babbitt?” — which Trump has introduced up at latest rallies. Byrd’s identify has been floating round right-wing web sites, and he mentioned within the at-times emotional interview Thursday that he and his household have acquired loss of life threats, together with racist threats.

“They talked about killing me, cutting off my head,” mentioned Byrd.

In interviews with CNN earlier this 12 months, Babbitt’s household mentioned she was “patriotic” and was on the Capitol to “express her First Amendment right and to answer the call of a still-sitting President.”

The household says it is contemplating a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in opposition to Byrd, they usually’ve already filed a civil lawsuit searching for data and different data from the police concerning the incident.

Their lawyer, Terry Roberts, mentioned in an interview with Zenger Information that he believed Byrd was unfit to serve or carry a gun within the Capitol. He additionally condemned the US Capitol Police for by no means publicly naming Byrd, which he claimed with out proof was stored secret as a result of Byrd is Black.

“The US Congress wants to protect this man. He’s got friends in high places and they want to protect him,” Roberts mentioned within the interview. “And they’ve done a pretty good job of it. … I don’t think it’s a proud moment for the US Capitol Police or the US Congress.”

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