Lt. Michael Byrd, the officer who justifiably shot Ashli Babbitt, sat down for an interview to give his thoughts on the event. Byrd heroically faced down domestic terrorists during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot spurred by former President Donald Trump.
As rioters made their way through the building, Byrd and his fellow officers set up makeshift barricades out of furniture to prevent the hostile crowd from making their way into the chamber where United States representatives were in session.
Once they made the barricade, Byrd said, they themselves were trapped. If any of the riot attendees made it through, their lives were at stake.
It was not long before the rioters descended upon the area that Byrd and his colleagues had tried so hard to protect. As he warned the angry mob to stay back, one of them got too close.
Ashli Babbitt attempted to crawl through one of the doors, and Byrd was forced to uphold his duty to defend the Capitol and lawmakers.
Byrd fired a shot at Babbitt that hit her in the shoulder. She later died from her injury.
The far-right, which has a record of claiming that Black victims of police violence deserved it based on past or occurring criminal activity, described Babbitt as a martyr and called for accountability in her death. Even Trump claimed that she had been murdered by an officer who worked for the Democrats.
However, Byrd, who willingly stepped forward after having his identity concealed by his department, views it another way.
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” said Byrd. “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.”
The United States Attorney’s Office agreed. In April, officials determined that Byrd shot Babbitt justifiably.
“Prosecutors would have to prove not only that the officer used force that was constitutionally unreasonable, but that the officer did so ‘willfully,’ which the Supreme Court has interpreted to mean that the officer acted with a bad purpose to disregard the law” a Department of Justice statement read before officially closing the investigation.
Babbitt’s family has vowed to file a civil rights lawsuit against the Capitol police, although the DOJ examined civil rights violations in their investigation and found none. The family’s attorney believes that she should have been given a warning before being shot.
Byrd is a 28-year law enforcement professional. On the day of the riot, he was short-staffed due to pandemic protocols and simultaneously gave Congresspeople tips on how to disguise themselves from the crowd just in case the mob broke through to the chamber.
As for those who may still be angry about Byrd’s actions, he wants the truth to be told.
“I hope they understand I did my job,” Byrd said.