Officer who fatally shot Ocean Beach woman at Capitol won’t face discipline; he calls shooting ‘last resort’
Capitol Police say the officer’s action during the Jan. 6 insurrection ‘was lawful and within department policy.’
A U.S. Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ocean Beach resident Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol building will not face internal discipline, the department announced.
The officer’s “conduct was lawful and within department policy,” according to a Capitol Police statement Aug. 23 indicating the department had completed an internal investigation into the death of Babbitt, 35.
The officer, Lt. Michael Byrd, said in an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt broadcast Aug. 26 that he pulled the trigger as a “last resort.”
Byrd publicly revealed his identity for the first time. Capitol Police officials had not released his name, saying he and his family had been “the subject of numerous credible and specific threats.”
Babbitt’s family previously filed a lawsuit seeking records identifying the officer.
“The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House chamber where members and staff were steps away,” the department’s statement read.
The statement followed a Department of Justice announcement in April that stated the officer would not face criminal prosecution.
The shooting occurred as supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol while Congress was debating and signing off on states’ electoral votes affirming current President Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.
Babbitt’s husband, Aaron, told Fox 5 TV soon after her death that “she loved her country and she was doing what she thought was right to support her country, joining up with like-minded people that also love their president and their country. She was voicing her opinion and she got killed for it.”
Video footage from the Jan. 6 raid showed that Babbitt, an Iraq War veteran, was shot while trying to climb through the busted-out window of a door to the Speaker’s Lobby.
Officers barricaded the doorway with furniture to stop the crowd from entering the Speaker’s Lobby and the chamber of the House of Representatives.
Byrd said in the interview that “I tried to wait as long as I could. 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. ... I know that day I saved countless lives.”
Byrd, who is Black, referred to death threats that have circulated since the shooting, as well as “racist attacks” he has received. “It’s all disheartening, because I know I was doing my job,” he said.
Byrd said the shooting was his first in 28 years as a law enforcement officer.
— Point Loma-OB Monthly staff contributed to this report.