by WorldTribune Staff, January 6, 2023
Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd was housed for several months at taxpayer expense, much of the time in a “distinguished visitor suite,” at Joint Base Andrews after he shot and killed Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a government watchdog group reported.
Records obtained by Judicial Watch in response to a September 2022 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit show that Byrd and a pet stayed in a “Distinguished Visitor Suite” at the “Presidential Inn” (part of Air Force Inns) under a “Capitol Police Presidential Inn Reservation” for the period July 8, 2021, through Jan. 28, 2022.
“These extraordinary revelations forced out by a Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit show Defense Department facilities were used to provide long-term housing for the Capitol Hill police officer who shot and killed Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Judicial Watch was informed by a representative at Joint Base Andrews that a “Distinguished Visitor Suite” is typically reserved for officers at the rank of O-7 (Brigadier General or higher.)
An August 2021 email from the assistant hotel manager indicates that the U.S. Capitol Police had been paying Byrd’s bills by phone “every 10 days.”
In an email thread beginning in November 2021, an accounting officer from the U.S. Capitol Police asks the Presidential Inn’s assistant lodging manager to provide detailed invoices reflecting all of the charges incurred by Lt. Byrd while staying at the Inn, in an email titled “Reservation Information-USCP [US Capitol Police] guest.” The manager then provides “folios” for Byrd’s reservation at the Inn from July 8 through November 11, 2021. When asked to explain pricing changes for Byrd’s lodging, the hotel manager explains that higher rates were due in part to the fact that Byrd moved from a “Temporary Lodging Facility” into a “Distinguished Visitors Suite.”
Related: Licensed to kill: DOJ’s shameful response to the killing of Ashli Babbitt sets chilling precedent, April 20, 2021
The records and an email dated Nov. 15, 2021, indicate the cost of Byrd’s lodging fluctuated from $161 in July 2021, dropped to $158 for August 2021, increased to $184 for September 2021, $185 for October 2021, and dropped to $165 for November 2021.
On Feb. 7, 2022, the U.S. Capitol Police again asked the hotel manager for detailed invoices for Byrd’s stay. The manager confirmed that Byrd checked out on Jan. 28, 2022, and that there were “sundry items that were used in the room that were not paid for before the guest left.”
The email, appears to confirm the Capitol Police were covering the cost of Byrd’s stay at the Presidential Inn, when a Capitol Police accounting officer tried to clarify Byrd’s hotel bill, asking the hotel manager, “So the hotel is charging USCP for the room and pet fee for January 28-30, or not?”
In June 2022, Judicial Watch produced DOJ records related to the shooting of Babbitt that included a memo recommending “that the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia decline for criminal prosecution the fatal shooting of Ashli McEntee [Babbitt],” also noting that the shooter, Byrd, “did not create a police report or documents” related to the shooting of Babbitt. A footnote details missing evidence: “During the debrief of Lieutenant Byrd, he did recall writing a few sentences on an evidence bag the evening of January 6, 2021, at the request of a crime scene officer. To date, the bag has not been located by USCP or MPD.”
In November 2021, Judicial Watch received multiple audio, visual and photo records from the DC Metropolitan Police Department about the shooting death of Babbitt. The records include a cell phone video of the shooting. An audio file of a police interview of the shooter, Byrd, indicates he declined to cooperate.
Judicial Watch previously uncovered records from the DC Metropolitan Police showing that officers reported they didn’t see a weapon in Babbitt’s hand before Byrd shot her and that Byrd was visibly distraught afterward. One officer attested that he didn’t recall hearing any verbal commands before Byrd shot Babbitt. The records include internal communications about Byrd’s case and a crime scene examination report. Investigators who wrote the Jan. 6, 2021, Metro PD Death Report for Babbitt (identified as Ashli Elizabeth McEntee-Babbitt Pamatian) note that the possible Manner of Death was “Homicide (Police Involved Shooting).”