Not charging Lt. Michael Byrd of the Capitol Police Force for shooting Ashli Babbitt certainly doesn’t pass the smell test. If he was white, if Ashli Babbit was black, if she had entered the Capitol protesting racial injustice, but otherwise the circumstances were identical, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell he wouldn’t have been at least charged, probably convicted, and certainly drawn and quartered by the media and the mob. From Jonathan Turley at jonathanturley.org:
Here is my column in The Hill on the recent interview of Lt. Michael Byrd who was the hitherto unnamed Capitol Hill officer who shot Ashli Babbitt on January 6th. The interview was notable in an admission that Byrd made about what he actually saw . . . and what he did not see.
Here is the column:
“That’s my job.” Those three words summed up a controversial interview this week with the long-unnamed officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6. Shortly after being cleared by the Capitol Police in the shooting, Lt. Michael Byrd went public in an NBC interview, insisting that he “saved countless lives” by shooting the unarmed protester.
I have long expressed doubt over the Babbitt shooting, which directly contradicted standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement. But what was breathtaking about Byrd’s interview was that he confirmed the worst suspicions about the shooting and raised serious questions over the incident reviews by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and, most recently, the Capitol Police.
Babbitt, 35, was an Air Force veteran and ardent supporter of former President Trump. She came to Washington to protest the certification of the presidential Electoral College results and stormed into the Capitol when security lines collapsed. She had no criminal record but clearly engaged in criminal conduct that day by entering Capitol and disobeying police commands. The question, however, has been why this unarmed trespasser deserved to die.
When protesters rushed to the House chamber, police barricaded the chamber’s doors; Capitol Police were on both sides, with officers standing directly behind Babbitt. Babbitt and others began to force their way through, and Babbitt started to climb through a broken window. That is when Byrd killed her.
At the time, some of us familiar with the rules governing police use of force raised concerns over the shooting. Those concerns were heightened by the DOJ’s bizarre review and report, which stated the governing standards but then seemed to brush them aside to clear Byrd.