On Thursday, Capitol Police officer Lt. Michael Byrd, was revealed for the first time as the person who fatally shot unarmed protester and veteran Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot. Byrd claimed he “saved countless lives” by protecting lawmakers against the rioters.
Byrd revealed his identity during an interview on “NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt.
During his interview, Byrd said that he made the right decision while protecting the Capitol and told interviewer Lester Holt, “I know that day I saved countless lives.”
“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,” Byrd said.
Babbitt was an Air Force veteran and a Donald Trump supporter. The 35-year-old was one of five people who died on Jan. 6 during the Capitol riot.
She was unarmed.
This was the first time Byrd had spoken publicly, but not the first time Byrd has made the news.
In 2019, Byrd left his service pistol in the bathroom at the Capitol Visitor Center, which was later found by another officer.
RollCall reports, “Byrd addressed the incident at Tuesday morning’s officer roll call and, according to sources, told fellow officers that he ‘will be treated differently’ because of his rank as a lieutenant. It was not clear what exactly the lieutenant meant by the comment.”
On Monday, Capitol Police released a statement on Byrd’s fatal shooting of Babbitt, saying his “conduct was lawful and within Department policy,” contending that officers are permitted to use deadly force “only when the officer reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life.”
On the shooting of Babbitt, Byrd discussed the details of firing on Babbitt, telling Holt: “I tried to wait as long as I could.”
The officer said he “hoped and prayed” that nobody would try to enter the doors he was guarding, but their “failure to comply required” him to “take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”
Byrd described the instructions given to lawmakers for their own protection.
“One of the things that was imperative was to inform the members to remove their pins to allow them to blend in,” Byrd said. “To remove their jackets, to look like staff as much as possible.”
When “the chants got louder,” Byrd said that that he knew the mob was coming his way.
“At that point is when I realized they’re here,” Byrd said. “The chants got louder. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but it sounded like hundreds of people outside of that door.”
On the shooting, Byrd said, “I do my job for Republican, for Democrat, for white, for Black, red, blue, green,” he said. “I don’t care about your affiliation.”
Byrd had escorted Trump through the Capitol when he was president more than once.
“If he was in the Capitol and I was responsible for him, I’d do the same thing for him and his family,” Byrd said of Trump.
Of January 6, Byrd added, “There was imminent threat and danger to the members of Congress.”
“I just want the truth to be told,” he said.
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