After being exonerated a week ago, the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt as she attempted to climb through a broken part of a door to the Speaker’s Lobby in the United States Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot spoke publicly for the first time and provided harrowing details about what happened inside the building during the insurgency, as well as the threats to his life since the attack.
During an exclusive NBC interview broadcast on Thursday, Lt. Michael Byrd told Lester Holt that he saved “countless lives” by using lethal force to prevent Babbitt and other rioters from breaching the House chambers as members were certifying the presidential election results. Although Byrd has never been officially identified, he claims he has received death threats since the incident.
Byrd stated, “They spoke about killing me, cutting off my head, and other really horrible and cruel things.” “There were also some racist attacks. It’s all upsetting because I know I did everything I could.”
Since her death, some fans of former President Donald Trump have depicted Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, as a martyr, and expressed unhappiness with the exoneration of Byrd by the US Capitol Police earlier this month.
“The officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy,” Capitol Police said in a statement. “An officer may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes it is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury,” the statement said.
The announcement came after the Justice Department stated in April that the officer would face no charges.
Byrd admitted that he was concerned about his safety when he decided to reveal his true name. “That is something to be afraid about. I feel I acted with the utmost bravery on January 6, and now it’s time for me to do so again.”
The brawl claimed the lives of five persons, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Hundreds of Capitol and D.C. police officers were hurt, and over 600 people have been charged with rioting.
As he defended the Speaker’s Lobby, where some 80 lawmakers were confined with the oncoming mob on the other side of the door, Byrd said he could hear radio calls about breaches of portions of the building and about cops being overrun and injured.
Byrd told Holt, “Once we barricaded the doors, we were effectively confined where we were.” “There was no way to get out of this. There was no other way out. If they get through that door, they’ll be in the House chamber and on the members of Congress, according to Byrd.
In the midst of the turmoil, Byrd stood before lawmakers and commanded them to put on gas masks. He claimed he warned Babbitt and other rioters to move back before firing a single fatal shot as Babbitt ignored him and attempted to enter the Speaker’s Lobby via the smashed glass piece of the door after other cops stepped aside from their places in front of it.
Byrd said that he was “posing a threat to the United States House of Representatives” when he fired the firearm.
On social media, some people were harshly critical of Byrd. “If this were a white cop shooting a BLM rioter, the entire country would be on fire right now,” conservative commentator Matt Walsh commented.
“She was an unarmed protester,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said in response to Byrd’s interview. I don’t believe we put unarmed demonstrators to death, do we? We certainly did. No one has expressed regret. He’s a true hero.”
Some senators, on the other hand, praised Byrd for his boldness. Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan wrote, “Officer Michael Byrd saved my life.”
Wajahat Ali, a journalist, wrote, “Lt. Michael Byrd performed his duty.”
Chris Hahn, an attorney, and activist offered his ideas in a clear manner. “LT Michael Byrd is a hero,” says the author. Babbitt, Ashli, was a terrorist. He wrote, “End of discussion.”
Michael Byrd, LT, is a true hero.
Babbitt, Ashli, was a terrorist.
This is the end of the discussion.
“The Radical Left haters cannot be allowed to get away with this,” Trump declared in a statement on August 11 after Babbitt was “murdered.” “Justice must be served!”
In a pending lawsuit, Babbitt’s family is demanding “far above $10 million” from the US Capitol Police.
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