Lieutenant Michael Byrd has come forward and publicly acknowledged himself as the officer who shot Ashli Babbit during the invasion of the United States Capital building on January 6.
After the incident, “multiple unscrupulous outlets” began to identify Byrd and advertise his identity to the public. CNBC reported that Byrd’s attorney said that because of this, he has received hundreds of death threats and has been living in hiding since the invasion of the Capital. Previously, the FBI said his threat level was too high to identify himself publicly. However, Byrd decided to publicly identify himself earlier this week to sit down for an interview with NBC.
The protest-turned-riot was an attempt to interrupt the process of counting the electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election and to prevent Joe Biden from being named the president elect. Protesters broke into the Capitol building and onto the senate floor. Ashlii Babbitt was shot after trying to climb through a broken glass window into Nancy Pelosi’s lobby. A man dressed in street clothes, now identified as Michael Byrd, is seen in videos of that day pointing his gun at Babbit, telling her to stop, and then firing a single shot (NY Post).
An internal investigation was carried out by the Capitol Police who exonerated Byrd, saying that the “officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy”. In a statement released by the Department, they said that the “actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death” (CNBC).
In his interview, Byrd claimed that he “saved countless lives” by shooting Babbitt and that he used deadly force as a last resort. While Byrd was still in hiding, the Babbitt family sued the police department in an attempt to identify the officer, but since capitol police are employed by congress, they are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (Above the Law).