Capitol cop who shot pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt comes ahead
Minnesota’s Melody Black gets emotional as she visits a memorial near the U.S. Capitol for Ashli Babbitt, who was killed in the building after a pro-Trump mob broke into Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 was.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Lt. Michael Byrd, the officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt during the January 6 invasion of the US Capitol, said in his initial comments after publicly disclosing his identity that the unarmed rioter “posed a threat” to him Congress represent.
“I was screaming and shouting as loud as I was, ‘Please stop, come back, come back,'” Byrd told NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt in an interview that aired Thursday night.
“You ultimately hope your orders will be obeyed, and unfortunately they weren’t,” he said.
The official’s remarks came three days after the US Capitol Police Department said it would not discipline him following an internal investigation into the January 6 shooting. The Justice Department said in April it would not bring criminal charges against the officer.
Neither of these agencies identified the officer when they shared their findings. The USCP stated in a press release on Monday: “This officer and the officer’s family have been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats.”
Byrd shot and killed Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, in the Capitol on January 6 when she tried to climb through an opening in a barricaded door that had broken a pane of glass, the Justice Department investigation found.
Babbitt was part of a group of pro-Trump rioters who had gathered in a hallway outside the speaker’s lobby that leads to the Chamber of Representatives. A joint session of Congress was forced to evacuate the Houses of Representatives and Senate when a mob of hundreds of people entered the building, temporarily undoing efforts to confirm President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
Byrd, who was in the lobby when Babbitt tried to crawl through the door, drew his service pistol and shot her once in the left shoulder, causing her to fall backwards to the floor, the DOJ noted. She was transported to the Washington Hospital Center, where, according to the agency, she died.
“She posed a threat to the United States House of Representatives,” Byrd told NBC.
When asked what he could see when he fired his gun, Byrd said, “You learn to aim at the mean mass [Babbitt] was sideways and I couldn’t see her full movement of her hands or anything. “
“Their movement made the discharge fall off where it was,” he said.
A lawyer for Babbitt’s family, Terrell Roberts, has alleged that Byrd “ambushed” Babbitt and shot her “without warning”. Roberts did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request to comment on Byrd’s interview.
Babbitt has become a martyr of the far right, and many are demanding that the name of the officer who shot her be revealed. Babbitt’s family, who have vowed to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the police and Byrd, have raised thousands of donations online.
Former President Donald Trump claimed that Babbitt was “murdered by someone who should never have pulled the trigger.”
Byrd, who is Black, said he had lived in hiding for months since Jan. 6 but was still the target of threats from those who speculated he was Babbitt’s shooter.
“You talked about killing me and cutting my head off,” Byrd said. “There were also some racist attacks.”
“It’s all disheartening because I know I’ve done my job,” he said.
Byrd said he had “naturally” concerns about coming forward and called the move “terrifying”. But “I think I showed the greatest courage on January 6th and it is now time to do so,” he said.
Byrd also mentioned an earlier incident that made his name headline news in the interview when he left his Glock 22 in a bathroom at the Capitol in 2019.
It was “a terrible mistake,” he told NBC Holt. “I confessed … I was punished for it and moved on.”