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U.S. Capitol Officer explains fatally shooting of San Diego woman during Jan. 6 insurrection

Jan. 6 Capitol riot
Posted at 9:34 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 00:34:54-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The U.S. Capitol Police officer who fatally shot a San Diego woman during the Jan. 6 insurrection said in an interview broadcast Thursday he pulled the trigger as a "last resort."

In an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt where he publicly revealed his identity for the first time, Lt. Michael Byrd said, "I tried to wait as long as I could. 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."

Video shows Ashli Babbitt was climbing through the busted-out window of a door to the Speaker's Lobby when Byrd shot her.

RELATED: No charges against officer who fatally shot San Diego woman during US Capitol riot

Byrd, who said the shooting was his first in 28 years as a law enforcement officer, was cleared of potential criminal charges by the Department of Justice in April.

The USCP also announced earlier this week that he would not face internal discipline because his conduct "was lawful and within department policy."

However, the agency did not release his name out of safety concerns -- saying, "This officer and the officer's family have been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats."

RELATED: Family and friends remember Ashli Babbitt, woman fatally shot in U.S. Capitol

Byrd, who is Black, referenced death threats that have circulated since the shooting, as well as "racist attacks" he's received.

"It's all disheartening, because I know I was doing my job," he said.

Byrd said he's confident he acted correctly, saying "I know that day I saved countless lives. 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."

RELATED: San Diego woman shot, killed inside U.S. Capitol during riot

Babbitt, a 35-year-old 14-year Air Force veteran, was one of five people who died during the insurrection, including a police officer.

Babbitt's family has filed a lawsuit seeking records identifying the officer. An attorney representing the family also previously indicated he would be filing a wrongful death and excessive force lawsuit in connection with the shooting.