Earlier this month former President Trump wondered in an emailed statement to supporters who killed Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Now, RealClearInvestigations has provided an answer.
Thus far efforts by Babbitt’s family, journalists and watchdog groups to get the U.S. Capitol Police to release the identity of the officer who shot Babbitt have been futile. USCP is “shrouded in secrecy” and is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.
As RCI pointed out, the refusal to name the officer has led to false rumors circulating on the internet. But the officer’s identity appears to have been revealed by the acting House sergeant at arms during a briefing earlier this year—a detail that was ultimately scrubbed by C-SPAN and CNN.
Now a new name has surfaced in the Babbitt imbroglio — Lt. Michael L. Byrd — and while USCP Communications Director Eva Malecki won’t confirm he is the shooter, in this case she isn’t denying it.
In a little-noticed exchange, Byrd was cited by the acting House sergeant at arms during a brief discussion of the officer who shot Babbitt at a Feb. 25 House hearing. Both C-SPAN and CNN removed his name from transcripts, but CQ Transcripts — which, according to its website, provides “the complete word from Capitol Hill; exactly as it was spoken” — recorded the Capitol official, Timothy Blodgett, referring to the cop as “Officer Byrd.” His name is clearly audible in the videotape of the hearing (at around 39:20).
Byrd appears to match the description of the shooter, who video footage shows is an African American dressed that day in a business suit. Jewelry, including a beaded bracelet and lapel pin, also match up with photos of Byrd.
In addition, Byrd’s resume lines up with what is known about the experience and position of the officer involved in the shooting — a veteran USCP officer who holds the rank of lieutenant and is the commander of the House Chamber Section of the Capitol Police. (RCI)
In April, the Justice Department said it would not pursue charges against the officer responsible for Babbitt’s death.
"The investigation further determined that Ms. Babbitt was among a mob of people that entered the Capitol building and gained access to a hallway outside 'Speaker’s Lobby,' which leads to the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives," the DOJ said in a press release.
"At the time, the USCP was evacuating Members from the Chamber, which the mob was trying to enter from multiple doorways. USCP officers used furniture to barricade a set of glass doors separating the hallway and Speaker’s Lobby to try and stop the mob from entering the Speaker’s Lobby and the Chamber, and three officers positioned themselves between the doors and the mob,” the statement continued. “Members of the mob attempted to break through the doors by striking them and breaking the glass with their hands, flagpoles, helmets, and other objects. Eventually, the three USCP officers positioned outside the doors were forced to evacuate. As members of the mob continued to strike the glass doors, Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out. An officer inside the Speaker’s Lobby fired one round from his service pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, causing her to fall back from the doorway and onto the floor.”
She later died at a hospital in Washington.
The DOJ further stated that its 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."
An attorney for the Babbitt family told RCI an investigator from their office also positively identified the officer based on “'painstaking' analysis of photos and videos taken by journalists and witnesses inside the Capitol, as well as from tips from citizens and other information.”
The family plans to sue the USCP as well as the officer.