After months of speculation, a key detail from the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill has been revealed.
The police officer who fatally shot protester Ashli Babbitt that day has remained anonymous, in contrast to virtually every other officer-involved shooting to spark nationwide news coverage. This week, however, U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael L. Byrd came forward to share his version of events that led to him firing the fateful bullet.
“And that’s my job”
According to the Washington Examiner, Byrd sat down for a nationally televised interview after he was officially exonerated of wrongdoing through an internal investigation.
The Department of Justice announced in April that it would not pursue any charges against him.
Speaking to NBC News anchor Lester Holt, the officer defended and attempted to explain his decision to shoot Babbitt as she attempted to climb through a broken window and into the Capitol building.
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” he 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.”
Asserting that he feels he displayed the “utmost courage” through his actions that day, Byrd called on Americans to consider that he was simply doing what he swore an oath to do.
“I just want the truth to be told”
“There was imminent threat and danger to the members of Congress,” he declared. “I just want the truth to be told.”
Although the identity of the officer was only confirmed this week, it was not the first time Byrd’s name had been associated with Babbitt’s death.
In February, then-Acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett was testifying before a House subcommittee about a communications breakdown among officers during the riot, adding: “Communication needs to be enhanced. 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.”
A RealClearInvestigations report last month named Byrd as the officer who shot Babbitt — and the slip-up by Blodgett only fueled online speculation that the government had been working to keep his identity under wraps.
Meanwhile, Babbitt’s loved ones are left searching for answers and are reportedly pursuing civil lawsuits to accomplish that goal. It remains to be seen whether Byrd’s recent public comments were planned as a way to establish his own version of events before the Babbitt family puts forward its own.