Numerous aspects of what unfolded during the Capitol riot have been hotly debated in the months since it happened, but few have been as contentious and emotional as the debate over the officer-involved shooting death of Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt.
The 35-year-old Air Force veteran was shot and killed by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd on January 6th after she tried to climb through a glass-paneled door after parts of it had been shattered by another rioter, identified as Zachary Jordan Alam.
Babbitt, who reportedly had been standing next to Alam, was shot.
In April, the Biden Department of Justice announced they had closed the investigation into the fatal shooting and would not be pursuing criminal charges against Byrd, citing “insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.”
Just last week, the Capitol Police confirmed a report from NBC News that they had exonerated Byrd, a 28-year veteran of the force. They stated in a press release that Byrd – who they did not name – “will not be facing internal discipline” because in their view Byrd’s conduct “was lawful and within Department policy, which says an officer may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.”
On the heels of the USCP exonerating Byrd, he did an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, identifying himself publicly for the first time.
Instead of clearing things up, the interview only intensified the debate over his actions and whether they were justified.
Georgetown University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, who has long been a critic of official media narratives surrounding the shooting, said that instead of confirming that the respective decisions by the DOJ and the Capitol Police not to pursue action against Byrd were the right ones to make that Byrd “proceeded to demolish the two official reviews that cleared him” after he admitted he could not determine whether Babbitt was armed…
“Legal experts and the media have avoided the obvious implications of the two reviews in the Babbitt shooting. Under this standard, hundreds of rioters could have been gunned down on Jan. 6 — and officers in cities such as Seattle or Portland, Ore., could have killed hundreds of violent protesters who tried to burn courthouses, took over city halls or occupied police stations during last summer’s widespread rioting. In all of those protests, a small number of activists from both political extremes showed up prepared for violence and pushed others to riot. According to the DOJ’s Byrd review, officers in those cities would not have been required to see a weapon in order to use lethal force in defending buildings.”
See also these comments from Mike McDaniel, a retired police officer.