Ashli Babbitt was a 14-year Air Force veteran from San Diego, CA. She served four tours with the U.S Air Force and was a high-level security official. Her life after the military was tough as she struggled to maintain her family-owned pool service company.
Like millions of other Americans, she supported Obama’s presidency. She felt differently when the 2016 election came around and opted out of voting for Clinton, preferring Trump instead.
Four years later, she would find herself at the Jan. 6 riot amid the allegations of mass voter fraud.
Ashli Babbitt was shot as she was attempting to breach the Speaker’s Lobby. Heavily armed forces were in the room with her and the crowd. As she appeared in the window, incompetent officer Lt. Michael Byrd lunged out of a side room and shot. There was no warning given. The details of the shooting were kept secret and Byrd’s fate was decided behind closed doors.
Here’s what we know now.
Other officers saw no threat: The other officers in the hallway were shocked by the shooting. None of them knew of Byrd’s intention to shoot and were casually standing and walking around seconds before. The heavily armed officers that were with Babbitt and the mob also saw no immediate threat.
Babbitt and others were unarmed: Like many of the other rioters in the room, Ashli Babbitt was unarmed. This can explain why officers beside her were unconcerned. Byrd claimed that it didn’t matter to him whether the protesters were armed or not.
Byrd was incompetent: A Capitol officer was put under review after Jan 6. for leaving their handgun inside a public Capitol bathroom. It was initially unknown who this officer was, but we now know it was Byrd. Additionally, Byrd was seen improperly handling his weapon, pointing it at other officers with his finger on the trigger. According to an outside investigation, many officers agreed that Byrd was not up to the job. This degree of incompetence is dangerous and alarming.
Byrd gave no warning: An outside investigation found that while Byrd claimed he issued a command before shooting, an experienced lawyer gathered evidence to indicate that Byrd remained silent. “It’s not debatable,” said the lawyer, “there was no warning.”
No transparency: Capitol police don’t follow the same protocols as regular police forces: no body cameras, no requirements to release the names of officers related to incidents, etc. Due to the different protocols, there is no transparency with incidents; they are internally decided, away from the public. It took eight months for the public to learn about who Babbitt's killer was.
Exonerated without public investigation: Eight months after the shooting, before Byrd’s name was released to the public, a Capitol Police memo declared that “no further action will be taken in this matter.” With no transparency, the killing was dismissed. “I’m not sure how he was justified shooting her when there was a SWAT team right behind her,” said a veteran Capitol officer.
A propagandized hero: In an interview after his name was released, Lt. Byrd said, “I know that day I saved countless lives.” The media elevated his message despite the reality of Jan 6. The only individual intentionally killed was Ashli Babbit, by Byrd himself. The other four deaths were natural deaths and accidents, as reported by medical examiners.
Lt. Michael Byrd shot an unarmed suspect. His name was then kept secret for eight months and cleared in a secret investigation. Given the mass social unrest that fought for police accountability, the case of Ashli Babbitt reveals a stark double standard.
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