Internal Capitol Police documents were obtained and released by legal watchdog Judicial Watch. The nearly 500 pages of interviews of witnesses and investigators of the Ashli Babbitt shooting reveal “no good reason for shooting,” according to Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“These previously secret records show there was no good reason to shoot and kill Ashli Babbitt,” Fitton said. “The Biden-Garland Justice Department and the Pelosi Congress have much to answer for the over the mishandling and cover-up of this scandalous killing of an American citizen by the U.S. Capitol Police.”
The Capitol Police reports directly to the Congress and is not typically liable to FOIA request. Judicial Watch obtained the documents via lawsuit filed in May. The internal police documents are littered with redactions, as well as entire pages withdrawn from the public record.
Ashli Babbitt’s shooter, Lt. Michael Byrd, is named openly throughout the documents.
“On Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Lieutenant Michael Byrd of the United States Capitol Police was assigned as the House Chamber Commander during the day work tour of duty. At approximately 1446 hours. while providing protection to the House Chambers during a riotous act, Lieutenant Byrd discharged his service pistol and struck Subject-l in the chest,” the report says. “Lieutenant Byrd’s issued service pistol was initially secured by members of the United States Capitol Police, Internal Affairs Division: however. the service pistol was
ultimately taken as evidence by the Department of Forensic Sciences. This officer involved shooting is being investigated by the MPD IAD and is assigned [redacted].”
While the Capitol Police officer was shielded from prosecution by the Biden Department of Justice, which announced that it will not be pursuing a grand jury indictment, the witness testimony shows that Lt. Byrd was visibly shaken after discharging his weapon at the unarmed Babbitt.
The autopsy report shows that Ashli McEntee [Babbitt] was killed due to a “homicide” by being shot in the left anterior shoulder.
Lt. Byrd, who is named as the House Chamber Commander, was issued a Garrity warning, and opted to consult an attorney before making a statement.
An unnamed Capitol Police sergeant who witnessed the shooting said that he “did not see anything in the female protester’s hands prior to the gunshot,” adding that Lt. Byrd looked “upset” and confessed, “I was the one who took the shot.”
The Sergeant also described struggling to be able to “figure out” what had happened and why Byrd took the shot. “So I don’t know if something happened to him where [sic] caused him to take the shot or not.”
A witness said that Lt. Byrd was “nervous, teary eyed, and appeared very upset.”
The witness was standing behind Lt. Byrd when the shooting took place and describes hearing what took place. He says that he told the protesters, and Babbitt, to “back up.”
The witness also avers that she appeared to be unarmed.
It is important to note that there are entire pages blacked out and redacted regarding sensitive matters. There are mentions of officers discussing that they would use ‘less lethal’ force against the protesters, which is a matter that throws into question whether Lt. Byrd used appropriate judgment when deciding to shoot and kill Ashli Babbitt. The records can be read in full below:
In late August, Lt. Michael Byrd was “formally exonerated” by an internal Capitol Police probe.
“The Justice Department announced in April that no charges were being brought against the officer,” the report notes. “The exoneration by the Capitol Police wraps up the last remaining investigation into the incident.”
“A memo from the commander of the Capitol Police’s Office of Personal Responsibility says ‘no further action will be taken in this matter’ after the officer was exonerated for use of force.”
Only days after his formal “exoneration,” NBC News aired an interview that confirmed the identity of Babbitt’s shooter as Lt. Michael Byrd. As Becker News reported in July, the Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett appeared to name Michael Byrd as Babbitt’s shooter in a House committee hearing on February 25th.
Lt. Byrd was captured on video holding aloft .40-caliber Glock handgun and pointing it at Babbitt, while Sullivan shouts repeatedly that “there is a gun.” The officer shoots her after about 15 seconds, while police officers look on without intervening. It appears that the original video posted on YouTube has been removed. A still image of Babbitt’s shooter from the publicly available video above is provided below.
An African-American man with a similar hairline and a bracelet or watch on his right wrist can be seen armed with a pistol on the House floor on Jan. 6.
The family attorney for Ashli Babbitt spoke out against the Department of Justice’s decision not to seek a grand jury indictment in a statement in April.
“The shooting of Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021 by an unidentified U.S. Capitol Police Officer was an unjustified use of deadly force which violated her constitutional rights,” attorney Terrell N. Roberts III said.
“It is clear from video footage that Ashli did not pose a danger to the officer, or any other person, when she was shot. Ashli was unarmed. She did not assault anyone. She did not threaten to harm anyone. There was no excuse for taking her life,” he added.
“It is a universal law enforcement standard that a police officer should use no more force than necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose,” Roberts continued. “At 5′ 2″ tall and 110 pounds, an arrest of Ashli could have been accomplished by a single trained officer with a set of handcuffs. At the time of the shooting, there were over a half-dozen police officers in close proximity to the Speaker’s door where Ashli was standing.”
The Department of Justice and the Capitol Police have closed the case on the Ashli Babbitt shooting. But in the court of public opinion, there are still more questions than answers on the disturbing circumstances surrounding her death.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
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