Michael Byrd, a lieutenant for the U.S. Capitol Police, is speaking out for the first time about the Capitol riot and the death of QAnon follower Ashli Babbitt.
via: The Root
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd said. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”
In his first interview since the shooting took place, Byrd said that he feared for his life as hoards of rioters stormed the Capitol and breached the area where members of the House of Representatives were located. Sixty to 80 members were inside the chamber he was guarding as the rioters drew closer. He and his fellow officers barricaded the doors with furniture.
“Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd told Holt. “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out.
The hoard of rioters kept advancing. If they had made it past the doors, they would have been in the House chamber and a direct threat to the members. Babbitt tried to come through one of the doors. He warned the rioters to stop, but they kept advancing. The moment he shot her was captured on video camera. One lone shot hit Babbitt in the shoulder. She hit the ground and later died of her injuries.
Byrd said he had no idea if she was armed and only found out later that night that she was an unarmed woman. He said he shot her because it was a “last resort.”
“I tried to wait as long as I could,” he told Holt. “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.”
For months, the 28-year veteran of the Capitol Police kept his silence as his name was passed around on right-wing conservative websites. One threat called for him to be decapitated. Donald Trump called him a murderer. When Holt asked Byrd what he thought of Trump’s words, he said that he had escorted the former president through the Capitol on several occasions.
“If he was in the Capitol and I was responsible for him, I’d do the same thing for him and his family,” Byrd said.
The Justice Department (DOJ) and the Capitol Police cleared Byrd of any wrongdoing. DOJ investigators decided not to charge Byrd after examining video, physical evidence from the scene, autopsy results and his own statements, as well as other officers and witnesses.
“The investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber,” federal prosecutors said in a statement.
Many people disagree with his decision to shoot Babbitt, but he is confident that he made the right call.
“I hope they understand I did my job,” Byrd said. “There was imminent threat and danger to the members of Congress. I just want the truth to be told.”
Earlier this week, seven Capitol officers were reported to have filed a suit against Donald Trump and Roger Stone, among others, in connection with the riot. The suit marks merely the latest example of legal action resulting from the riot.