The Capitol police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt on January 6 has broken his silence in an on-camera interview with MSNBC.
Lt. Michael Byrd says that he saved “countless lives” by killing Babbitt, a veteran, who was unarmed.
Byrd’s identity had been floating around right-wing media for months, but had never been confirmed by authorities. He claims that he has been subjected to threats as a result of his name being released.
“Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd said in the interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt. “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out.”
“If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress,” added Byrd.
Byrd says that he had repeatedly shouted at the protesters to get back and away from the door before firing the shot that killed Babbitt.
In an exclusive interview with @LesterHoltNBC, Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd describes why he’s choosing to identify himself. Byrd shares his account of the January 6 riot, as officers barricaded the door and he fired a single shot, killing Ashli Babbitt. pic.twitter.com/5E7KPtxNc2
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) August 26, 2021
During the segment, MSNBC made sure to point out that the Air Force veteran was a believer in QAnon.
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd said. “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 claimed that the shooting was a “last resort” and that he had been hearing reports of shots fired over his police radio, though those reports were ultimately determined to have been false.
“I tried to wait as long as I could,” he told Holt. “I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors. But their failure to comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”
Byrd said that it sounded like there were “hundreds” of protesters beyond the doors and that he was unaware that there were officers standing behind Babbitt.
“At that point is when I realized they’re here,” Byrd said, referring to the rioters. “The chants got louder. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but it sounded like hundreds of people outside of that door.”
“It was impossible for me to see what was on the other side,” he said.
Byrd also claims that he could not see that Babbitt’s hands were empty.
“I could not fully see her hands or what was in the backpack or what the intentions are,” Byrd said. “But they had shown violence leading up to that point.”
Investigations by the Capitol Police and the Justice Department cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.
“The 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,” federal prosecutors said in a statement.
Former President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that Babbitt was murdered.