The U.S Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol said he did so as a last resort but didn’t regret his actions because he “saved countless lives.”
Byrd, who is a 28-year veteran of the Capitol Police, went through the events of the day and how the violence was escalating before the infamous moment when he pulled the trigger on his police firearm.
He said he and other officers used furniture to barricade the glass doors that led to the lobby of the U.S. House of Representatives chamber, where 60 to 80 members of Congress were waiting out the rioting outside.
“Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd said in the interview with Lester Holt. “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out.”
Byrd said he he heard alarming messages from his police radio, reporting police down, rioters employing chemical agents, and even one report of an officer’s fingers being blown off.
That’s when the rioters arrived at the barricaded door.
Byrd said he took a defensive posture with his gun drawn as rioters began to break the glass to the door.
He says that he yelled repeatedly at them to get back, but they pressed forward. That’s when Babbitt tried to jump through one of the broken windows, and he fired at her.
Byrd says that he has been in hiding since his name leaked to right-wing websites and he started receiving racist messages and death threats.
But he said that he made the right decision.
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd said in the interview. “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.”
He also said that he did not know at the time if Babbitt, a U.S. Air Force veteran, was carrying a weapon. He said he shot her as a “last resort” after yelling several warnings.
“I tried to wait as long as I could,” he told Holt. “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’s family said they plan to file a civil lawsuit against the Capitol Police over the incident.
Byrd denies that he had any political motivation in the shooting.
“I do my job for Republican, for Democrat, for white, for Black, red, blue, green,” he said. “I don’t care about your affiliation.”