The Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt has finally come forward of his own accord in a new interview with NBC’s Lester Holt.
We previously identified him as Lt. Michael Byrd, and that identification was correct.
Byrd has been involved in law enforcement for 28 years and infamously made headlines in 2019 for leaving a loaded gun in a Capitol restroom.
In his interview with Holt, which aired Thursday, Byrd claimed he “saved lives.” He said he believed he showed the “utmost courage” on Jan. 6. He also said Babbitt being unarmed didn’t alter his decision-making.
In an exclusive interview with @LesterHoltNBC, Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd describes why he’s choosing to identify himself. Byrd shares his account of the January 6 riot, as officers barricaded the door and he fired a single shot, killing Ashli Babbitt. pic.twitter.com/5E7KPtxNc2
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) August 26, 2021
There are several problems with his position, as I previously noted. First Ashli Babbitt was not armed and not threatening anyone with a weapon at the moment that he shot her. He claims he warned people to get back or he would shoot. But you can’t hear that on the tape. He may have, but all you can hear is people on the other side of the door. If we can’t hear it on the tape, it’s likely Babbitt didn’t hear it either.
Now, yes, he may have heard other reports of violence, so that would have to be entered into the reasonableness of his thought pattern on the shooting. But Babbitt was not personally posing a threat to his life and was not armed. She had not been threatening the cops on the other side of the door.
Beyond that, if Byrd had not shot her, right behind her on the stairs was an armed tactical team who would have stopped anyone. That’s what’s so sad about this all — had he waited a second, the tactical team replacing the Capitol Police, who had been in front of the doors, would have been there and blocked anyone from going any further. So the shooting was basically pointless and unnecessary.
As we also noted, this appears to have come after the lawmakers left — although we can’t be sure, because again, the Capitol Police have not been required to provide any evidence or response to press requests.
A representative of the Babbitt family reacted to Byrd’s “decision to reveal his identity.”
Babbitt’s family attorney, Terrell Roberts, called his decision to reveal his identity an unexpected turn of events.
“Quite a turn-around, given the months of constantly saying that to identify him would expose him to danger. Where did that one go?” Roberts told the Daily Mail.
“The US Congress wants to protect this man. He’s got friends in high places, and they want to protect him.”
An internal investigations of Byrd’s actions determined that he should not face charges.