The name of the U.S. Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6 has still not been officially released, but according to U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., the officer was distraught afterward.
According to the GOP lawmaker, he knows this because he encountered the officer after the shooting and could see that he was struggling with what had happened. His response was to hug the unidentified officer and tell him he did what he had to do.
Noting that the officer was “later in his career,” Mullin said in a C-SPAN interview he was certain that the man “did not want to use lethal force.”
“He was the last person in the world who ever wanted to use force like that,” Mullin insisted. “I don’t know for a fact, but I can guarantee you he’s never had to pull his weapon in a manner like that before. I know for a fact because after it happened, he came over. He was physically and emotionally distraught. I actually gave him a hug and I said, ‘Sir, you did what you had to do.'”
“Unfortunately, the young lady, her family’s life has changed and it’s unfortunate that she lost her life, but the lieutenant’s life has changed too,” he continued. “It wasn’t his choice. He did not show up that day to have to do that, he got put in a situation where he had to do his job because there were members still in the balcony.”
.@RepMullin on police officer who fatally shot woman in Capitol on January 6th: “After it happened, he came over. He was physically and emotionally distraught. I actually gave him a hug and I said, ‘sir, you did what you had to do.'” pic.twitter.com/qSwZgilMS7
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 23, 2021
Ashli Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran and a Trump supporter, was killed when she tried to climb through a broken window next to a door outside the Speaker’s Lobby, which leads to the House chamber.
While there is video of Babbitt being shot, there are no audible commands heard before a single shot is fired, but the Republican congressman suggested that verbal commands were given.
“If you’re going to present your weapon in a manner and give commands and they still don’t listen and they still approach, you don’t have a choice,” he explained. “Either you have to, at that point, discharge your weapon in a manner of self-defense or that weapon’s going to be taken away from you. It’s going to be used against you and put all of our lives in danger too.”
Babbitt was not armed and was climbing through a broken window by herself. She could have easily been shoved backward by the officer, who never left a side room he was in — there were several officers on the same side of the door as the protesters who were not being accosted by the crowd.
Mullin said he believes the officer’s actions “saved other people’s lives… because I think there would have been a lot more that would have lost their lives because there were still a lot of members on the balcony.”
Babbitt’s death remains the only death on Jan. 6 directly related to the storming of the Capitol — three protesters reportedly died of health-related causes, and Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died the following day of a stroke.
While testifying before Congress, Capitol Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett dropped the name of the officer involved, suggesting it was Lt. Michael Byrd, though there has been no official confirmation.
Byrd had reportedly left his loaded handgun in a public restroom on Capitol Hill in 2019.
The officer involved, be it Byrd or another officer, was cleared of any charges in the shooting.
After having “conducted a thorough investigation,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in April they “will not pursue criminal charges against the U.S. Capitol Police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt.”
Babbitt’s family filed a lawsuit last month in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia asking for the records revealing the identity of the police officer who fatally shot her.
There were plenty of social media users skeptical of Mullin’s take on events… here’s a sampling of some of those responses from Twitter:
This is an appalling statement. Appalling.
— Austin Ruse (@austinruse) July 26, 2021
Without warning, Lt Mike Byrd shot & killed an unarmed protester who was lifted into an open window, almost hitting bystanders that included other law enforcement officers
There was no real & imminent threat to his life, yet he reached for his hand Cannon, instead of the cuffs
— Propaganda Sniper (@HindlesKitchen) July 26, 2021
It’s not cool when it happens to black people and it’s not cool when it happens to anyone else.
— fractal_grid (@fractal_grid) July 26, 2021
It’s not what he had to do!!! She was unarmed!!
— Lynnieagain (@Lynnieagain1) July 26, 2021
How soon after it happened? Is the hug on film?
— Tim O’Brien (@Timobns) July 24, 2021
People all of a sudden approving of an unarmed woman being shot by police is very ironic
— Big Ben’s Nonbiological Son (@bigbenismydad) July 26, 2021
Wait what? What did he HAVE to do? She was unarmed! Why did he have to shoot and kill her?? @ForAshli
— Daniel Grajeda (@DanielGrajeda5) July 27, 2021
I find it hard to believe that, that one officer had to do what the countless other officers didn’t do that day. Officers that were in much more dangerous situations than the offending officer was. He shot a 5’0” tall, 90lb unarmed woman from over six feet away, unnecessarily.
— Russell Jones (@ICFReason) July 26, 2021
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