Officer Who Fatally Shot Capitol Rioter Ashli Babbitt Speaks Out in Emotional Interview

Michael Byrd, a lieutenant for the U.S. Capitol Police, is speaking out publicly for the first time about the nation-shocking events of Jan. 6.

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Michael Byrd, a lieutenant for the U.S. Capitol Police, is speaking out for the first time about the Capitol riot and the death of QAnon follower Ashli Babbitt.

In an interview with Lester Holt for NBC News on Thursday, Byrd—who’s never before been officially identified—said he’s been living in hiding for months following the riot that was spurred by a refusal to accept Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss. Trump and other similarly aligned figures, as previously reported, have been sued in connection with the fatal riot.

“They talked about killing me, cutting off my head,” Byrd, who used deadly force against Babbitt during the riot, said when asked to detail the threats he’s received from Trump-aligned individuals since Jan. 6. “Very vicious and cruel things. There were some racist attacks, as well. It’s all disheartening because I know I was doing my job.”

Later in the emotional interview, Byrd said he believes he showed the “utmost courage” on Jan. 6 by saving “countless lives” and is aiming to do that now, as well. Addressing the specific moment that resulted in Babbitt’s death, Byrd said he had been loudly screaming for rioters to get back. He and others also had their weapons drawn. At the time, Babbitt—a Trump supporter—was climbing through a window.

“I was taking a tactical stance,” he said. “You’re ultimately hoping that your commands will be complied with and unfortunately they were not.”

Speaking further on his training, as well as noting that Babbitt’s movement likely caused “the discharge to fall where it did,” Byrd said she was “posing a threat to the United States House of Representatives” at the time, so he had to take action.

Addressing Trump’s criticism of Byrd, specifically his remarks that the officer had “murdered” Babbitt, Byrd said it was “disheartening” to hear such a thing from a person he would have also protected as part of his job.

“If [Trump] was in the room or anywhere and I’m responsible for him, I was prepared to do the same thing for him and his family,” he said.

Byrd has been exonerated via a number of individual investigations into his actions on Jan. 6, including an internal probe that revealed its findings earlier this month. Responding to these findings in his conversation with Holt, Byrd said words like that “mean a lot” to him.

“That’s exactly what I did on that day, that was my mission,” he said when Holt quoted one investigation as having determined that his actions helped save lives on Jan. 6. “That was what I prepared for and it’s rewarding and refreshing to hear that.”

Earlier this week, seven Capitol officers were reported to have filed a suit against Donald Trump and Roger Stone, among others, in connection with the riot. The suit marks merely the latest example of legal action resulting from the riot.

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