The Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt, and was cleared by the Justice Department in April and by Capitol Police earlier this week, is set to reveal his identity during a national television interview on Thursday.
The Washington Examiner has been told the officer’s name is Lt. Michael Byrd.
The officer will reveal his identity in an interview with NBC News anchor Lestor Holt, who trailed the reveal, saying: “Speaking out and revealing his identity publicly for the first time, the officer will share his perspective on the events of that day, including the aftermath of the deadly insurrection and the threats he has received. He will also discuss the recent news that Capitol Police will not discipline him following an internal review, exonerating him for use of force.”
Babbitt family lawyer Terry Roberts told Zenger Wednesday night the shooter was “Lt. Michael Leroy Byrd.”
“I have heard from multiple people that Lt. Michael Byrd shot Ashli Babbitt. It is common knowledge on Capitol Hill,” a senior GOP aide told the Washington Examiner. “Like all of the USCP Officers, Lt. Byrd is an everyday hero, and we are tremendously grateful for his service. He made a tough call on Jan. 6 while he was doing his job, protecting the Capitol from violent rioters who had no business being there.”
Capitol Police determined this week the shooting of Babbitt during the Capitol riot was “lawful,” and the Capitol Police officer involved will not face any internal disciplinary actions, arguing his actions might have “saved” members of Congress “from serious injury and possible death.”
“Who shot Ashli Babbitt?” has become a common refrain by Trump and others.
Attorney Terry Roberts, who is preparing to file a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Babbitt's family, said she was killed in an “ambush.”
Roberts told the Washington Examiner: “I predict the Capitol Police will not release anything substantive about its investigation because it cannot pass muster in the light of day. A one-sided inquiry behind closed doors proves nothing, and it certainly is not an ‘exoneration.’ The world has already seen citizens’ videos of the shooting and has reached a different conclusion — one which is far from clearing the officer.”
The officer’s lawyer, Mark Schamel, said his client's shouts could not be seen in video footage of the incident because his mouth was covered with a mask as a means to stop the spread of COVID-19. He also noted the videos were taken on the other side of the doors, where the rioters were making a lot of noise, and he has witness statements to back that up.
“This decision by the USCP’s Office of Professional Responsibility to exonerate the lieutenant, like the decisions of the Department of Justice and United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, is the only correct conclusion following the events of Jan. 6. Every piece of evidence that is released further validates the lieutenant’s conduct,” Schamel told the Washington Examiner on Monday. “The lieutenant exercised professionalism and restraint in heroically defending and protecting members of Congress and their staff during the violent insurrection on Jan. 6.”
A video shows the 35-year-old Air Force veteran and Trump supporter attempting to climb through a broken doorway window into the Speaker's Lobby during the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, when she was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer who has not yet been publicly identified.
“The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House Chamber where Members and staff were steps away,” Capitol Police said on Monday.
The FBI has said law enforcement officers began to move away from the doorway of the Speaker's Lobby after a crowd, including Babbitt, reached it. The crowd can be seen trying to bust out the glass in the entryway door windows.
The Justice Department said in April the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division “conducted a thorough investigation.” After investigators “examined video footage posted on social media, statements from the officer involved and other officers and witnesses to the events, physical evidence from the scene of the shooting, and the results of an autopsy,” the officials “determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.”
Dr. Francisco Diaz, the chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia, determined in April Babbitt’s death was caused by a “gunshot wound to the left anterior shoulder.” Her manner of death was ruled a “homicide.” Not all homicides are determined to be unjustified or as murders.
Then-acting House sergeant-at-arms Timothy Blodgett appeared to let Byrd’s name slip during February testimony before the House Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch. Blodgett had been deputy sergeant-at-arms before the Capitol riot, and his LinkedIn now lists him as the chief of staff at Capitol Police as of August.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington Republican, asked Blodgett about communications failures among law enforcement during the Capitol riot, saying, “They were getting no leadership, they were getting no direction, there was no coordination, and you could see the fear in their eyes.”
Beutler added: “I want to know if you’re fixing that.”
Blodgett replied: “Yes, that’s something we need to fix, and we need to fix it immediately … Communication needs to be enhanced.”
He then added: “The situation where you discussed, where Officer Byrd was at the door when Ms. Babbitt was shot. It was our sergeant-at-arms employee who rendered the aid to her at that site.”
Independent journalist Tyler Hansen publicly named Byrd as the shooter in tweets starting in April. Real Clear Investigations reported in July that “now a new name has surfaced in the Babbitt imbroglio — Lt. Michael L. Byrd — and while USCP Communications Director Eva Malecki won’t confirm he is the shooter, in this case she isn’t denying it.”
In June, Roberts said on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News that he believed the officer who shot Babbitt was the same officer who left a loaded handgun in a Capitol bathroom.
“I think one of the reasons why they’re hiding his identity is they don’t have a good explanation for this shooting,” he said.
Byrd reportedly “left his Glock 22 in a bathroom in the Capitol Visitor Center complex,” Roll Call reported in 2019.
Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma said he spoke with Byrd after Babbitt was shot during the Capitol riot, and the officer was “distraught” afterward.
“I guarantee you he’s never had to pull his weapon in a manner like that before,” Mullin said in July. “He’s the last person in the world to ever want to use force like that.”
Reports emerged claiming the police officer who shot Babbitt was part of the security detail for specific Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Capitol Police denied this, and numerous reports in July cited officials who said the officer who shot Babbitt was not part of the security detail for a specific member of Congress.
Capitol Police said Monday the officer “is not being identified for the officer’s safety” and that “this officer and the officer’s family have been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats.”
Babbitt was the only person determined to have been killed during the Capitol riot. Two protesters suffered fatal heart attacks, and another died of a suspected drug overdose.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, died the day after responding to the riot. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told the Washington Examiner in April Sicknick’s death was “natural” and caused by two strokes.
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