There have been a lot of questions about the shooting of Ashli Babbitt on January 6 during the Capitol riot. A finding by the Department of Justice that they would not be pursuing action against Lt. Michael Byrd — the officer who shot her — did not quell those questions.
There is now a new report that is likely to spark even more concerns. According to a report from Real Clear Investigations, no one ever interviewed Byrd before the decision was made not to pursue any charges against him, the attorney for the Babbitt family, Terry Roberts said.
“He didn’t provide any statement to [criminal] investigators and they didn’t push him to make a statement,” Babbitt family attorney Terry Roberts said in an RCI interview. “It’s astonishing how skimpy his investigative file is.”
Roberts, who has spoken with the D.C. MPD detective assigned to the case, said the kid-glove treatment of Byrd raises suspicions the investigation was a “whitewash.”
The lawyer’s account appears to be backed up by a January 2021 internal affairs report, which notes Byrd “declined to provide a statement,” D.C. MPD documents show.
Asked about it, a D.C. MPD spokeswoman confirmed that Byrd did not cooperate with internal affairs agents or FBI agents, who jointly investigated what was one of the most high-profile officer-involved shooting cases in U.S. history.
Normally in judging police use of force, you would interview the involved officer and evaluate the reasonableness of his actions given the situation. It’s safe to say that it’s very unusual in such a shooting incident to make such a decision without an interview. It’s also interesting that according to the report, Byrd refused to cooperate and give an interview. If he thought he was fully justified and did nothing improper, why not give them an interview?
This report comes on top of the questions about Babbitt being unarmed and not physically threatening anyone before she was shot. During an interview that Byrd gave to NBC’s Lester Holt after the DOJ decision, Byrd said that he couldn’t see her hands but that even if he knew she was unarmed that wouldn’t have changed his reaction. That’s an incredible statement given that she hadn’t physically posed a threat to him or to any of the officers to whom she was just standing near.
I’ll keep saying it because when I saw the video, what struck me so strongly was how completely unnecessary Byrd’s actions were. Had he waited for another second to determine if she was a threat rather than just shooting her down, heavily armed police had just come up the stairs behind her. They would have been at the door and no one would have gotten past them without any shooting. Even though she hadn’t posed any physical threat to the police on the other side of the door moments before, Byrd still shot her.
I think the problem was the “investigators” didn’t want to know and they were content not to push it because to find otherwise might disrupt the narrative. And as I said, the general decision that this sends is a bad one. Does it then mean that the Capitol Police have the right to gun down any trespasser? If the BLM were to come through the door next and an officer shoots one of them down, are all the Democrats going to cheer that, too, under similar circumstances? Is that officer going to be treated the same way? Something tells me no.