Speed Reads

Capitol Riot Aftermath

Capitol Police officer who shot Jan. 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt goes public in NBC News interview

U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd stepped forward for the first time Thursday night to publicly identify himself as the officer who fatally shot Jan. 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt as she attempted to crawl through a broken window into the House chamber. "I know that day I saved countless lives," Byrd told NBC News anchor Lester Holt, in his first public interview since the Capitol siege. "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, a 28-year veteran of the Capitol Police force, walked through the events of Jan. 6, explaining that he repeatedly yelled at the rioters to stop trying to break through the barricaded door to the Speaker's Lobby. "If they get through that door, they're into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress," he said. Babbitt was "posing a threat to the United States House of Representatives," and "you're ultimately hoping that your commands will be complied with, and unfortunately they were not."

Byrd said he has received death threats, some of them racist in nature, after his name bounced around online. "It's disheartening" to hear former President Donald Trump say he believes Babbitt was "murdered," he said, but if Trump "was in the room, or anywhere else and I'm responsible for him, I was prepared to do the same thing for him and his family." "Would you have his back today if you were so assigned?" Holt asked. "I sure would, because it's my job," Byrd said.

The Capitol Police said earlier this week that Byrd, unnamed in the announcement, would face no discipline and his actions had been lawful and likely saved lives. Federal prosecutors said in April that they would not charge him for Babbitt's death.