by WorldTribune Staff, July 8, 2021
Lt. Michael L. Byrd has been identified as the U.S. Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6, a report said.
In a July 7 report for RealClearInvestigations, Paul Sperry noted that Capitol Police Communications Director Eva Malecki would not confirm Byrd is the shooter, but “in this case she isn’t denying it.”
It was at a Feb. 25 House hearing that Byrd’s name was first cited as the officer who shot and killed the unarmed Babbitt, the report noted.
According to CQ Transcripts, which provides “the complete word from Capitol Hill; exactly as it was spoken,” the acting House sergeant at arms mentioned “Officer Byrd” during a brief discussion of who shot Babbitt at the hearing.
Both C-SPAN and CNN removed Byrd’s name from transcripts, the report said.
“Byrd appears to match the description of the shooter, who video footage shows is an African American dressed that day in a business suit. Jewelry, including a beaded bracelet and lapel pin, also match up with photos of Byrd,” Sperry noted.
“In addition, Byrd’s resume lines up with what is known about the experience and position of the officer involved in the shooting — a veteran USCP officer who holds the rank of lieutenant and is the commander of the House Chamber Section of the Capitol Police.”
Byrd’s Internet footprint was scrubbed, including his social media and personal photos, following the Jan. 6 shooting.
In February 2019, Byrd was investigated for leaving his department-issued Glock-22 firearm unattended in a restroom on the House side of the Capitol. The weapon, which fires .40-caliber rounds, has no manual safety to prevent unintended firing.
A Glock-22 was used in the Babbitt shooting.
“Fortunately, the abandoned gun was discovered by another officer during a routine security sweep,” Sperry noted.
Byrd addressed the blunder at a roll call the following morning, reportedly telling fellow officers that he would “be treated differently” because of his rank as a lieutenant.
Department of Justice investigators closed their “investigation” of the Babbitt shooting in April, clearing the officer of criminal wrongdoing in Babbitt’s death. This despite the fact that the medical examiner ruled Babbitt’s death a homicide.
While most police departments are required to release an officer’s name within days of a fatal shooting, the Capitol Police do not as they are controlled by Congress, which “can keep the public in the dark about the identity and investigation of an officer involved in a shooting indefinitely,” Sperry noted.
Sperry also noted that withholding the name of the officer who killed Babbitt in what was the only round fired by anyone on Jan. 6 “has bred speculation on the Internet and led to the mistaken identification of at least one officer. USCP Special Agent David Bailey was wrongly fingered as the shooter on social media and conservative news sites.”
Because Congress has exempted the Capitol Police from Freedom of Information Act requests, the Babbitt family is suing the D.C. Police “for documents that identify the officer who shot Babbitt … as well as notes and summaries of what the officer said regarding the shooting and the reasons he discharged his weapon.”
The D.C. Police have led the investigation into Babbitt’s shooting. A hearing before a judge is scheduled for Sept. 3. Washington-based watchdog Judicial Watch also is suing for the records.
(“Officer Byrd” is clearly audible in the below videotape of the Feb. 25 hearing, at around the 39:20 mark.)