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Capitol Police lieutenant who fatally shot rioter on Jan. 6 speaks publicly for first time

Lt. Michael Byrd
Posted at 10:52 AM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 13:52:32-04

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) lieutenant who shot and killed a Trump supporter attempting to breach a hallway near the House chamber during the riots at the Capitol building on Jan. 6 spoke publicly for the first time on Thursday.

"I showed utmost courage on Jan. 6, and it's time for me to do that now," USCP Lt. Michael Byrd told NBC News' Lester Holt in an interview that aired Thursday.

Byrd was the officer who shot and killed 35-year-old Ashli Babbit on Jan. 6 as she attempted to breach a doorway that led to the House chamber.

Prosecutors said in May that they would not charge Byrd with a crime in connection with the fatal shooting, and earlier this week, the USCP officially noted that they thought the shooting was justified. Throughout the review process, officials did not publicly identify Byrd due to threats he had received online.

"They talked about killing me, cutting off my head," Byrd told NBC News. "It's all disheartening because I know I was doing my job."

In the interview, Byrd defended his actions by saying that Babbit was "posing a threat to the United States House of Representatives" and that he believes he saved "countless lives."

Babbit was not armed at the time of the shooting, and no other shots were fired during the riots on Jan. 6. However, Byrd noted that he had received a call of shots fired prior to Babbit attempting to breach the doorway — though those reports turned out to be false.

"I can only control my reaction, my training, my level of expertise," Byrd said when asked how he would respond to other officers not firing their weapons during the riots. "That would be upon (other officers) to speak for themselves."

Byrd was also asked about comments by former President Donald Trump, in which he labeled Byrd a "murderer." He told Holt that he would "have his back" should he had been tasked with protecting him.

"It's disheartening," Byrd said. "If he's in the room, or anywhere, and I'm responsible for him, I was prepared to do the same for him and his family."

"I do my job for Republican, for Democrat, for white, for Black, red, blue, green," he continued.

Byrd was also asked about the USCP's finding that he "potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death" on Jan. 6.

"Those words meant a lot because that's exactly what I did on that day," Byrd said. "That was my mission. That was what I prepared for, and it's rewarding and refreshing to hear that."