For the past six months, as Congress has proposed legislation to reform police departments across the country, the Capitol Police has stiff-armed government watchdogs, journalists and even lawyers for Babbitt, who have sought the identity of the officer and additional details about the shooting. The USCP still refuses to release his name, in stark contrast to recent high-profile police shootings around the nation.
In February, USCP issued a press release promising to “share additional information once the investigation is complete.” But Justice Department investigators closed their probe in April, clearing the officer of criminal wrongdoing in Babbitt’s death, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide. And last month, the D.C. Police — which shares jurisdiction with the Capitol Police and has led the investigation into Babbitt’s shooting — concluded its own internal review of the shooting without making any findings, according to spokeswoman Kristen Metzger.Still, USCP continues “stonewalling the public,” according to the head of the police union. . . .
Now a new name has surfaced in the Babbitt imbroglio — Lt. Michael L. Byrd — and while USCP Communications Director Eva Malecki won’t confirm he is the shooter, in this case she isn’t denying it.
In a little-noticed exchange, Byrd was cited by the acting House sergeant at arms during a brief discussion of the officer who shot Babbitt at a Feb. 25 House hearing. Both C-SPAN and CNN removed his name from transcripts, but CQ Transcripts — which, according to its website, provides “the complete word from Capitol Hill; exactly as it was spoken” — recorded the Capitol official, Timothy Blodgett, referring to the cop as “Officer Byrd.” His name is clearly audible in the videotape of the hearing (at around 39:20).
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.
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.
Following the shooting, Byrd’s Internet footprint was scrubbed, including his social media and personal photos.
The identity of the Capitol Police officer who shot the MAGA rioter on camera on January 6 has remained one of the most closely guarded secrets in America.
But I know who it is.
I know his name, his age, his rank, his family status and his service record.
I know all this because DailyMail.com journalists did their job and found out, as I am sure have journalists from other news organizations.
Although I’m equally sure that many prestigious left-leaning news organizations – who ought to know better – have probably not even bothered.
Nobody has reported the information yet because there has been enormous pressure put on the media from the Capitol Police and the officer’s legal team not to do so for fear it would endanger his life.
That is a perfectly legitimate concern.
Emotions are still running scarily high about what happened that day.
But given the scale of global attention this shooting attracted, and the overwhelming public interest in the dreadful events of January 6, how tenable is this ongoing wall of silence?
Particularly as the National Commission into the riot is coming soon.
It seems increasingly outrageous to me that you, the public, have no idea who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt.
It doesn’t matter whether you support the action of the rioters that day, or, like me, you found it a shocking and reprehensible act of insurrection aimed at the very heartbeat of US democracy fueled by a woefully reckless President Trump.
What matters is that justice is seen to be done, and that means every salient detail from what occurred is made public.
As I write this, even Ashli Babbitt’s own family don’t know for sure who killed her or been told the details of the investigation that cleared the officer’s actions.
How can that be right?
When DailyMail.com asked for confirmation of his identity, Thomas DiBiase, General Counsel for the Capitol Police, wrote back requesting that we ‘refrain’ from naming the officer involved ‘until the conclusion of the ongoing investigation,’ citing ‘threats a number of Capitol Police officers have received in connection with the events of January 6th.’
That investigation was concluded in April when the officer’s actions were deemed lawful by the Department of Justice, which said there was no evidence to support a criminal prosecution.
In that announcement, the department still did not identify him and have continued not to do so.
But other officers who have shot people this year, either with justification or not, have been identified publicly.
In April, Officer Nicholas Reardon was named within a day of fatally firing four shots at knife-wielding 16-year-old Ma’khia Bryant as she charged at two women in Columbus, Ohio.
Also in April, Kim Potter was named as the officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
And Eric Stillman was identified as the Chicago cop who fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo during a foot chase in March.
By stark contrast, the U.S. Capitol Police have not even held a single briefing on Babbitt’s death.
Her attorney Terrell Roberts told DailyMail.com: ‘In every case I’ve known of a police shooting, the officers have been named. I don’t know of one where they haven’t been named. ‘These police officers are regarded as public officials. They’re acting for the government and there should be public accountability. The public has a right to know.’
He called the decision not to reveal the officer’s identity as ‘a blatant double-standard’ that impedes the family’s attempts to find out more about Babbitt’s death and said: ‘I don’t know, but I think one of the reasons they are hiding his identity they don’t have a good reason for this shooting. If Ashli Babbitt had been brandishing a firearm and she was shot, the officer would be identified by now and pinning a medal on him. So, I don’t think we have an explanation for the shooting and that’s why they have not identified him.’
Democrats have concocted one of the most transparently silly talking points in memory to defend their position on defunding the police.
This all comes down to something very simple. Democrats have looked at their internal polls on crime and are panicking. The post first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion .
In the Floyd case, the hits just keep on coming. As I explained in Update 12: The Point, the post trial comments of several jurors could, in a normal rather than backward trial, in a state where the rule of law rather than the mob and threats of violence ruled, easily cause a mistrial, as I […]The George Floyd Case, Update 13: The Process Is The Punishment — Stately McDaniel Manor
If this is even slightly true, I’d expect to see an exodus of police from Minneapolis, if not from the whole state of Minnesota. And I’d have to hope they have enough social workers to deal with everything.
Yesterday, a Columbus police officer shot and killed a teenage girl who was in the process of attacking another girl with a knife. The police department rushed out the bodycam footage and presented it at a press conference.
Typical of the media coverage of the incident was this Washington Post story: Ohio police fatally shoot Black teenage girl just before Chauvin verdict:
Police said at a late news conference on Tuesday that the girl had threatened two others with a knife before the shooting, playing segments of body camera video that showed the victim lunging toward someone in a driveway before an officer fired four shots. A knife is visible in the driveway next to the girl as police perform CPR on her.
You would never know from reading the story that the girl had the knife in her hand and was in the process of attacking the girl in pink when she was shot. But that is clearly what happened if you watch the video.
That story is not an isolated example.
Why would a newspaper not report the clear evidence that the girl was attacking another girl with a knife that was visible in her hand for all the world to see? Why would newspaper headlines make this about race?
Donald Trump poisoned media criticism; even when the media misbehaved, calling it out always fed into a narrative that protected an administration fueled by lies.
But it’s time to call this what it is: media malpractice. This intense hyperfocus on race is spurring a moral panic, causing presumably otherwise rational people to jump to conclusions and trumpet them far and wide.
So far online the reactions I am seeing include:
- The police should never kill anyone under any circumstances.
- Why not shoot her in the leg, ar only shoot once? Or shoot the knife out of her hand?
- Knife fights with girls happen; what’s the big deal?
The widespread insanity inherent in these reactions, to me, is the kind of thing you see in a moral panic. And the media is stoking it by constantly playing up the racial angle, and failing to give statistics that might provide context to what we are seeing (such as noting the disproportionate number of police killed by black shooters, a fact that would contextualize the disproportionate number of blacks killed by police; or noting the currently uncovered examples of police shootings of white people). It’s malpractice and it’s creating a frenzy.
Something has to give.
They never cared in the slightest about Officer Brian Sicknick. They had just spent months glorifying a protest movement whose core view is that police officers are inherently racist and abusive. He had just become their toy, to be played with and exploited in order to depict the January 6 protest as a murderous orgy carried out by savages so primitive and inhuman that they were willing to fatally bash in the skull of a helpless person or spray them with deadly gases until they choked to death on their own lung fluids.
He’s right of course. If you support BLM then you necessarily support the routine verbal abuse of police officers as racists akin to the Klan. So it was very curious that a police officer would suddenly become the hero of this same group of progressives apart from the politics of doing so. In fact, you may recall people were simultaneously claiming Sicknick was a victim of the mob and that the same Capitol Hill police had treated BLM protesters unfairly. He was both a victim (where needed) and a perpetrator.
An update on my post yesterday about the Washington Post ‘s failure to update their police shootings database in at least one glaring instance.
First, I looked at their stated criteria and they do evince an intent to keep the database updated, which is good:
The Post’s database is updated regularly as fatal shootings are reported and as facts emerge about individual cases.
Second, I started combing through some of the other 2019 shootings of “unarmed” black men and found no other obvious errors. I did see a lot of shootings that seemed clearly justified, and some that were questionable. But there was a clear thread throughout: the suspects were to some degree noncompliant.
The civil rights activist who underwent use of the force training shown in this video concluded with this observation: “I didn’t understand how important compliance was . . . People need to comply with the orders of law enforcement officers for their own sake.”
People who say this on social media these days are roundly mocked and told they are minimizing racism and police abuse. They are told they are advocating a police state and they might as well be Nazis. But you could believe police abuse and racism are widespread and rampant and still advocate compliance because it saves lives.
It’s just a fact. Not a popular fact, but a fact nonetheless.
“Speak the truth, and leave immediately thereafter.” — Albanian proverb
Here is a link to the archive of Andrew Branca’s commentary and analysis of the Derek Chauvin trial
Lots of useful information there, which will somehow be missed by the “news” media.
Material that could easily result in acquittal, and riots if it’s not being widely broadcast in other coverage of the trial.
Lt. Mercil works in the MPD training division in charge of use-of-force training and policy instruction. He was active in that capacity during the period preceding the Floyd events during which Chauvin would have received his department use-of-force training and policy instruction, which is what makes Mercil’s testimony relevant.
Mercil is also a genuine fan of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), saying (as many practitioners do, in my experience) that he had “fallen in love with the sport.” This was elicited on direct, led by Prosecutor Schleiter, no doubt to buttress Mercil’s credibility, as was the direct testimony of Mercil about his expertise in hand-to-hand force techniques as both a trainer and a street cop, and his mastery of MPD use-of-force policies. Little did Schleiter know how Mercil’s credibility would shortly boomerang on the prosecution.
Schleiter did his usual routine, where he portrayed use of force options as being cast in absolute and binary terms. If A, then B, if X then Y. Any variance of this was either out of MPD policy or at least “untrained by MPD” (an entirely different matter than being outside policy), and hence “wrong-act.”
Schleiter made use of the MPD use of force continuum, and presented it in the most childish and sterile context possible. If at this level of the continuum, officer can do this, but not that, correct. Mercil dutifully answered in the affirmative. But if at that level of the continuum, officer can do that, but not this. Again, yes.
Schleiter would also pose simplified and hypothetical scenarios only minimally representative of what occurred with Floyd and ask if the use of, say, a neck restraint in that hypothetical would be reasonable. Of course, the answer from Mercil, as intended that narrow and specific question, would be, no, unreasonable.
Missing from all of this direct, of course, was any context around the complex dynamics and circumstances that often surround a police use of force event. That Schleiter wants to avoid any such discussion is understandable, because doing so provides an appearance for at least reasonableness, if not outright justification, for Chauvin’s use-of-force decisions and conduct with respect to Floyd.
Another common routine from Schleiter when doing direct on state’s witnesses who have any purported use-of-force expertise is to show them the photo of Chauvin apparently (but perhaps not actually) kneeling on Floyd’s neck and asking, “Is this an MPD trained neck restraint?” Invariably the answer is in the negative.
That makes for a good headline, but in fact it’s not very informative on the actual issues of the case. Why? Because just because a technique may not be an “MPD trained” technique does not make it outside of policy, does not mean it was legally unjustified, and certainly does not mean it contributed to Floyd’s death—which is what the trial is supposed to be all about.
Once again, Schleiter touched on positional asphyxia, and once again I feel obliged to note that this doesn’t really help the state prove Chauvin’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in the context of Floyd’s ingestion of a three-fold fatal dose of fentanyl. Certainly, if I had to choose between two situations, one in which I was placed in a prone position while handcuffed for 10 minutes, and another in which I was forced to ingest a three-fold fatal dose of fentanyl, I know which I’d pick, and quickly. There’s simply no reasonable comparison between those two risks to life.
So, the direct of Mercil was really just more of the Schleiter show we’ve already seen with other state’s witnesses. Kind of checking the boxes, but not even all the boxes needed to support the state’s narrative of guilt—and always by only exposing the jury to half the context, which is a dangerous ploy.
Basing your narrative of guilt on only half the context is a dangerous ploy because we, thank God, enjoy an adversarial legal system, and that means the defense gets to pop right up and expose the jury to the other half of the context, the half consistent with a narrative of innocence—and, in this case, they get to do so with your own witness.
And that’s precisely what happened with Mercil, and in a big, big way.
Nelson began by asking questions related to Mercil’s time as a street cop, with a particular emphasis on the tendency of suspects being subject to arrest to come up with all kinds of nonsense about why they shouldn’t be arrested that day.
Dangerous job, being a police officer? Yes. Are people generally unhappy about being arrested? Very rarely are they happy, Mercil answered. Do suspects frequently engage in a wide variety of behaviors to avoid arrest, including fighting, arguing, making excuses? Yes, they do, answered Mercil.
Indeed, when asked if he himself had ever disbelieved a suspect’s claim of a medical emergency as an apparent effort to avoid arrest, Mercil answered that he personally had done so.
All of this, of course, undercuts the part of the prosecution narrative that is relying on Floyd’s purported pleas and excuses about claustrophobia and anxiety and crying out for mama. Perhaps all of that is real—but a reasonable officer must also consider that maybe much of it is simply an effort to avoid arrest.
Nelson also once again put the use of pressure and body weight techniques in a favorable light. The state wants to present Chauvin’s knee in a negative light, as deadly mechanical asphyxiation, or as a “blood choke” as attested to by MMA Williams. In fact, however, the use of pressure and body weight to restrain a suspect was adopted by the MPD because it was a lesser intensity of force than the prior practice of using strikes—either barehanded, or with batons, or even with weighted gloves—to compel compliance. Mercil concurred.
The take home message for the jury is that Chauvin’s knee, far from being a public execution in a public street, was a lesser force than would otherwise have been required.
Whereas Schleiter wants to pretend that all of Chauvin’s use of force and other decisions should have been based solely on the needs and desires of Floyd, Nelson once again had the state’s witness concede that under the MPD critical decision-making model the officer must consider a wide breadth of factors beyond just the suspect, including the officer himself, his partners, any bystanders—especially angry or threatening bystanders.
Schleiter had described use of force in a very static and binary way—once a suspect stops resisting, the officer should immediately stop his use of force, period. But Nelson got Mercil to agree that if that suspect had been forcibly resisting the officer only moments before, that would be a factor weighing in favor of continuing to apply force even after apparent resistance had ceased.
That is, it’s not just what’s happening in the moment that counts, but what happened prior to that moment, as well. (Schleiter pulled this trick again with the last witness of the day, a Jody Stiger from LAPD acting as an expert witness for the state, and I don’t expect it to work out well there, either.)
Additional factors that a reasonable officer would take into account in deciding how much force to apply and for how long included a disparity in size between the officer and the suspect—and as we know, the 6’ 6” 230-pound Floyd was substantially larger than the 5’ 9” 140-pound Chauvin—as well as the circumstance in which a suspect not only fought police, but fought multiple officers—exactly as Floyd did in this instance.
When asked if additional use-of-force factors included if the suspect was believed to be on drugs, and whether being on drugs could give a suspect exceptionally great strength, Mercil agreed to both statements.
When asked explicitly if any of the video of the event showed Chauvin placing Floyd in a “choke hold” (in this context meaning a respiratory choke but the term has been used with careless disregard for accuracy) Mercil was obliged to answer that it did not.
When asked if a carotid choke, or what MPD would refer to as an “unconscious neck restraint” required both of the carotid arteries to be compressed, Mercil answered that it did. So much for MMA expert Williams’ testimony to the contrary.
Further, when asked how quickly unconsciousness occurred when a carotid choke was placed, Mercil answered “less than 10 seconds.” Clearly, then Floyd was not being subject to a carotid choke for the large majority of the 9 minutes or so Chauvin had his knee in place, and likely never during that period.
When asked if Mercil trained officers that a suspect who had become unconscious could regain consciousness, get back into the fight, and perhaps even be more aggressive than previously, Mercil responded that he did.
This, of course, is a rationale for Chauvin maintain his knee across Floyd’s back even after Floyd lost consciousness.
As noted above, Nelson also explored with Mercil whether there were circumstances in which it would be appropriate for an officer to maintain a neck restraint for a substantial period of time, and Mercil conceded that there were.
Sometimes to maintain the neck restraint for however long it took EMS to arrive, asked Nelson? Mercil answered that he, personally, had maintained restraint on suspects for the duration required for EMS to arrive.
To ensure the point: The state’s own use-of-force expert testified on cross that he personally had engaged in use-of-force conduct that the state had been using to demonize Chauvin as an unlawful killer. That’s not a good day for the state.
Nelson also again re-emphasized the reality that the officer involved in a use-of-force event must consider not just the suspect, but also the presence of an angry and growing mob observing what might well look like an ugly use of police force, and Mercil agreed that was the case.
On the issue of providing timely medical care, an issue the state pushes with particular energy, Nelson had Mercil agree that while MPD policy is to provide care as soon as possible, that must take into consideration the safety of the scene, and that the MPD policy actually requires that it first be safe for the officer to provide care before the officer has the duty to provide that care.
Indeed, factors such as whether a suspect had just been fighting with the officers was huge in determining whether an officer could reasonably provide care—especially if that “care” would be chest compressions requiring the suspect to have their handcuffs removed. Mercil answered in the affirmative.
Later, on re-direct, Schleiter would attempt to diminish the damage of this bit of testimony by asking Mercil if bystanders merely taking videos would constitute a reason to not provide care. The answer, of course, was no.
But that merely provided Nelson with the lay-up opportunity on re-cross to ask whether a mob shouting insults and outright threats would constitute such a reason—and that was conduct of the mob in this event—and the answer to that, of course, was yes.
Similarly, Nelson hit back on the state’s emphasis on the whole “recovery position” narrative in the context of hypothetical positional asphyxia. Might there be circumstances that would prevent putting a suspect in a recovery position? Mercil answered that there were.
If that all sounds bad enough for the prosecution, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
It was at this point that Nelson showed Mercil a series of photographs captured from the body worn camera of Officer Lane, and showing Chauvin’s knee on Floyd from the angle down Floyd’s proned body.
Photo 1: Where’s Chauvin’s leg in this image? On Floyd’s neck? Or on his shoulder blades and back. Mercil: Shoulder blades and back.
And in photo 2? Same. Photo 3? Same. Photo 4? Same.
This, of course, fundamentally undercuts the prosecution’s narrative of guilt that it was Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck that killed Floyd.
Are there circumstances like those already discussed where would be appropriate to maintain presence of leg across shoulder blades and back in order to ensure control of the suspect? Yes, there are, Mercil answered. For as long as 10 minutes? It’s possible.
In other words, the use of the restraint can be justified not only to compel compliance of the suspect in the first place, but to ensure that the suspect maintains compliance moving forward—especially given the experience and concern that unconscious suspects can revive and be even more violent than they were prior, even if that restraint is being held in place for as long as 10 minutes. And that’s not just for the safety of the officer, but also for the officer’s partners, for bystanders, and even for the suspect himself.
Just devastating for the state’s narrative, and all of it coming from the state’s own MPD use of force expert.
And there’s more. RTWT.