Lt. Michael Byrd sat down with NBC anchor Lester Holt for an interview that aired Thursday to discuss his account of the minutes leading up to his shooting of Babbitt. According to Byrd, he and a few other officers originally barricaded the doors to protect the 60 to 80 House members and staffers still inside the building.
“Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd, who is the leader of the House Chamber section of the department, said “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out.”
Byrd also described a chaotic situation of shouts and injuries being reported over his police radio.
“At that point is when I realized they’re here. The chants got louder. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but it sounded like hundreds of people outside of that door,” he said.
Footage later depicted Byrd firing his weapon at Babbitt after she broke through a glass window. Byrd stated that he repeatedly yelled orders to step back that went ignored by the crowds. He further emphasized that the shot was a “last resort.”
“I tried to wait as long as I could,” Byrd said. “I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors. But their failure to comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”
Babbitt later died from injuries sustained from the gun shot. Seven months after the riots, the U.S. Capitol Police concluded its internal investigation and declared that the shooting was “lawful and within Department policy.”
Byrd maintained that he made the right decision given the circumstances.
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd said. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”
Byrd stated that he has been receiving death threats as well as racist attacks since his identity was revealed.
“They talked about killing me, cutting off my head,” Byrd said. “It’s all disheartening, because I know I was doing my job.”
Ashli Babbitt’s husband Aaron joined Fox News’s Tucker Carlson on Thursday to discuss the aftermath of his wife’s death and respond to Byrd’s interview. He said he also faced death threats since his identity was revealed in January.
To those who may disagree with his actions, Byrd said “I hope they understand I did my job. There was imminent threat and danger to the members of Congress. I just want the truth to be told.”
In 2019, Byrd left his Glock 22 pistol inside a bathroom at the Capitol Visitor’s Center and was later found during a routine security sweep of the premises. The Capitol police said an investigation would occur and “the appropriate actions will be taken in accordance with the Department’s official policies and procedures.” Byrd was back on the job a few days after the incident and allegedly told colleagues he would “be treated differently” because of his rank.