Aug 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Officer who killed Ashli Babbit has no regrets: "I saved countless lives"

The Capitol Police officer who killed Ashli Babbit during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection told NBC News that he shot her as a "last resort," but ultimately he knows he "saved countless lives."

Driving the news: Lt. Michael Byrd was cleared this week of any wrongdoing for killing Babbitt, whom he shot as she tried to make her way through a broken window into the Speaker's Lobby, just off the House chamber floor.

  • An internal investigation found that Byrd followed department policy, which allows use of deadly force only when an officer reasonably expects serious physical harm to themselves or others.
  • Byrd said that after the incident, he received deaths threats and experienced racist attacks when his name was leaked online, NBC News notes.

What they're saying: "I tried to wait as long as I could," Byrd told NBC's Lester 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."

  • Byrd said he yelled repeatedly to get demonstrators to step back, but his orders were not followed.
  • Byrd said he had no political agenda: "I do my job for Republican, for Democrat, for white, for Black, red, blue, green. I don’t care about your affiliation."

The big picture: Byrd, who was stationed outside the House chamber on Jan. 6, said he heard several reports on his radio of officers down. When he heard that rioters got inside the building, he went into the chamber and told lawmakers to hide under their chairs, per NBC News.

  • Officers then proceeded to barricade the chamber doors using whatever furniture available.
  • “[W]e were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd said. “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out.”
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