I’ve previously covered some of the questions surrounding the shooting of Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol riot.
Chief among them that she was shot while climbing through a window, when there were cops right behind her. She had no weapons in her hands and wasn’t physically threatening Michael Byrd, the officer who shot her. Those raise natural questions about the reasonableness of that action.
So, he basically shot her in the act of trespassing when heavily armed officers were coming up right behind her. That’s evident on the video. At no point on the video does she threaten anyone or attack any of the officers who were there, right beside her.
That’s what has always struck me the most about the facts in this case, when Byrd said he believes it was necessary: “I tried to wait as long as I could,” Byrd said. “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.”
However, it wasn’t necessary at all, because she hadn’t attacked any of the cops she was standing next to, and more heavily armed cops were coming to protect the hallway. Had he literally waited a couple more seconds, they would have been right there. She wasn’t posing an immediate threat to him when he took the shot.
But because the Capitol Police have refused to release the documents in the matter, and all we’ve gotten is the DOJ’s decision not to prosecute Byrd, there’s a big gap in the information that we would have, normally, in a police shooting case. Usually, it’s released and/or subject to FOIA, but the Capitol Police aren’t subject to FOIA.
Now, though, Judicial Watch has been able to obtain 500 pages of internal documents from the DC Metropolitan Police pertaining to the shooting, including witness accounts that Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, says show “no good reason to shoot and kill Ashli Babbitt.”
“The Biden-Garland Justice Department and the Pelosi Congress have much to answer for the over the mishandling and cover-up of this scandalous killing of an American citizen by the U.S. Capitol Police,” Fitton said.
Multiple other police witnesses confirmed that Babbitt had no weapon or anything in her hands, according to the Internal Affairs Division report, and recounted that Byrd was visibly upset.
Here were two of the accounts of police witnesses who were on site.
“Sergeant [redacted] observed a white, female protester was climbing through an opened area where the glass pane had been knocked out. He heard a gunshot and this female fell backwards through the opening. The crowd on the other side of the barricaded east doors, began to step back and some put their hands in the air. Sergeant [redacted] observed Lieutenant Byrd step back just after hearing the gunshot. He did not see anything in the female protester’s hands prior to the gunshot,” the Internal Affairs Division report stated.
“Sergeant [redacted] never went on the other side of the barricaded east door. He also did not know that it was Lieutenant Byrd who shot his gun until he talked to him moments after it occurred. Lieutenant Byrd looked upset and stated, ‘I was the one who took the shot,’” the report continued.
Judicial Watch noted that in a written transcript of the interview with the sergeant, he detailed he was not sure “if something happened to” Byrd that “caused him to take the shot or not.”
“Uh, I saw Lieutenant Byrd kinda. I don’t know if it was before or after. Cause I was trying to figure this out of, but there was at one point where I remember seeing him and he kind of went like this and then came back up again. Uh, I don’t know if that was from him taking the shot and then stepping back from that shot or if it was before that, I can’t, no matter how I tried to rack my brain, I can’t, I can’t figure out when that happened, but uh, so I don’t know if something happened to him where [sic] caused him to take the shot or not,” the written transcript states.
Another officer also confirmed that she had no weapons in her hands.
“He did not see Ms. McEntee [Babbitt] in possession of any potential weapons,” the summary report states.
“He reiterated that he did not observe that she was armed.”
That interviewee also described Byrd as “upset” following the shooting.
“Lieutenant Byrd was shaking, he did not say anything…. Byrd was nervous, teary-eyed, and appeared very upset. His voice [was] also shaky when he called for medical assistance over the radio. Lieutenant Byrd was still very upset,” the report continued.
Another troubling note was one of the officers said that “[h]e did not hear any verbal commands” [from Byrd] before Babbitt was shot. Byrd has said that he repeatedly told people to stop. You can’t hear that on the video of the incident, but the noise is very loud, so he could have been shouting and you just can’t hear it. But that also means it’s likely that Babbitt might not have heard it either, if he actually did shout commands. But this testimony casts doubt on that part of Byrd’s story.
So, if the other officers could see that she didn’t have any weapons in her hands, why couldn’t Byrd? Then why did Byrd shoot her? Byrd actually said during his interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that that wouldn’t have made any difference to him.
“Her family points out that she was not armed,” Holt says. “That’s correct,” Byrd responded. “The fact that you weren’t aware whether she was armed or not, did that alter the decision making?” Holt asked. “It did not,” Byrd said.
So he would have shot her anyway, armed or not? That’s not a reasonable position. Holt noted that there were many other officers in other situations where they were attacked, but they didn’t respond by shooting anyone.
That’s why it’s important to get such records, so that the case can fully be evaluated, and why it’s wrong that the Capitol Police hasn’t been willing to provide the information that normally we would have at this point.
One other piece of information we do have now, though since he identified himself, is that Byrd infamously made headlines in 2019 for leaving a loaded gun in a Capitol restroom.