Internal documents from DC Metropolitan Police, obtained through a FOIA lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch, show witness accounts indicating Ashli Babbitt was unarmed when she tried climbing into the House chambers.
Babbitt took part in the riot at the Capitol on January 6th, attempting to climb through broken glass into the chamber. A total of five people died that day, but only Babbitt was killed.
The documents show witnesses had not seen Babbitt holding a weapon and provide conflicting reports as to whether she was verbally warned before being fired upon by Capitol Police officer Lieutenant Michael Byrd.
The document cache prompted Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton to declare there was “no good reason” to shoot Babbitt.
Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and avid supporter of former President Donald Trump, seemed to be unarmed based on video of the incident circulating online after January 6th.
These documents further that argument.
One witness account contained in an Internal Affairs Division report, from a Capitol Police sergeant, states “He did not see anything in the female protester’s hands prior to the gunshot.”
Another report involving an interview with a separate Capitol Police officer yielded statements indicating, “He did not see Ms. McEntee [Babbitt] in possession of any potential weapons” and “He reiterated that he did not observe that she was armed.”
And yet another witness claims they did not see a weapon in Babbitt’s hands before hearing a gunshot, though investigators “recovered ‘a para force’ folding knife in Ms. Babbitt’s pants pocket.”
There were conflicting reports as to whether or not Ashli Babbitt had been given verbal warnings regarding her actions prior to Officer Michael Byrd firing.
One report indicated a Capitol Police officer stated, “He did not hear any verbal commands” before Babbitt was shot, but a man who “reached out” to the Metro PD said he heard Byrd shout “loud verbal commands” that he would “shoot” before firing.
That same man who said he heard verbal commands also stated Byrd had fired twice rather than once.
Analysis of the documents and witness accounts led Fitton to surmise that Officer Michael Byrd didn’t have proper justification to fire at Ashli Babbitt, even as she attempted to breach the chamber.
“These previously secret records show there was no good reason to shoot and kill Ashli Babbitt,” stated Fitton.
“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,” he added.
Byrd still may have been able to claim justification for the shooting based on the threat level. One doesn’t have to be armed in order to be a threat to the lives of those around them.
And, in fact, the officer had been cleared months ago of criminal wrongdoing and was cleared internally by the Capitol Police Department in August.
The internal review “determined the officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy,” according to a statement by Capitol Police.
Byrd has consistently defended his actions saying he “(knew) members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger.”
He would also suggest his actions “saved countless lives” by protecting lawmakers against the rioters and described the threats that day as “frightening.”
Republican congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK) defended Officer Byrd prior to his name being released as taking appropriate action.
“He [Byrd] was the last person in the world whoever wanted to use force like that and he wasn’t prone to do that,” Mullin said in an appearance on a C-Span show called January 6 Views From the House.
The GOP Rep. explained that he even had to comfort the officer after the shooting.
“I know for a fact because after it happened, he came over. He was physically and emotionally distraught,” explained Mullin. “I actually gave him a hug and said, ‘Sir, you did what you had to do.'”
The documents obtained by Judicial Watch back up claims that Byrd was upset over what had taken place.
“His eyes were red,” a sergeant explained. “He was, you could see he was visibly upset and he just, you know, kind of comfort him and told him, you know, we gotta get outta here.”
Babbitt’s family lawyer has argued that she was “not an imminent threat of death or serious injury to anyone.”
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