WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lt. Michael Byrd, the U.S. Capitol Police officer responsible for the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt, was interviewed on “NBC Nightly News” last August, when he noted to anchor Lester Holt that he had been thoroughly investigated for the incident and had been cleared of all wrongdoing.
“There’s an investigative process [and] I was cleared by the DOJ [Department of Justice], and FBI and [the Washington D.C.] Metropolitan Police,” Byrd said.
Babbit was among a group of rioters who had breached the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, and who were attempting to break through a barricaded doorway in a hallway that led to the chamber where members of Congress were in the process of being evacuated.
Bystander video taken at the scene of the shooting shows Byrd pointing his gun at the barricaded door, whose windows have been broken through, and then fires a single shot; the camera immediately pans to the right, and Babbitt, who was climbing through one of the windows, falls back and onto the floor.
Babbitt, who was unarmed, was treated at the scene and later died at a local area hospital.
However, new reports indicate that Byrd was exonerated for Babbitt’s death despite not cooperating with investigators, and allegedly refusing to answer any of their questions; the department never threatened any consequences for him doing so, according to Terry Roberts, an attorney representing the Babbitt family.
“He didn’t provide any statement to [criminal] investigators and they didn’t push him to make a statement,” he said. “It’s astonishing how skimpy his investigative file is.”
Robert’s claims are bolstered by a January 2021 D.C. MPD internal affairs report, which states that Byrd “declined to provide a statement” to investigators. In addition, deputy D.C. MPD communications director Kristen Metzger also verified that Byrd wasn’t interviewed by either internal affairs agents or the FBI about the shooting.
“MPD did not formally interview Lt. Byrd,” she said. “He didn’t give a statement while under the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation.”
Despite that fact, Byrd was cleared of all wrongdoing within four months of the incident; based on this information, Roberts is claiming that the investigation into Byrd’s actions were a deliberate attempt on the part of investigators to essentially “whitewash” Babbitt’s death and sweep it under the rug.
However, USCP stated in August that Byrd’s “conduct was lawful and within department policy.”