With the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives yet to take up a list of issues ignored by the former Jan. 6 Select Committee, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Feb. 2 declared that Ashli Babbitt was not murdered and the Capitol Police lieutenant who shot her was “doing his job.”
During McCarthy’s weekly press conference at the Capitol, a reporter asked him, “Do you think Ashli Babbitt was murdered, or do you think the police officer who shot her was doing his job?”
McCarthy (R-California) didn’t hesitate: “I think the police officer did his job.”Babbitt, 35, was shot and killed by then-Lt. Michael Byrd outside the entrance to the Speaker’s Lobby just before 2:45 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021. A 14-year U.S. Air Force and National Guard veteran, Babbitt was not armed as she started to climb through a broken window leading into the Speaker’s Lobby. Byrd fired a single shot from his Glock 22 service weapon, striking Babbitt in the left anterior shoulder.
Byrd said he feared for his life and felt justified in shooting the 5 foot 2 inch, 115-pound Babbitt. The U.S. Justice Department agreed, ruling there was not sufficient evidence to prove that Byrd used excessive force. Capitol Police also cleared Byrd of wrongdoing. His name was kept from the public until late August 2021, when he went on national television to tell his story.
From early July 2021 until late January 2022, Byrd was housed in a military hotel at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, costing Capitol Police tens of thousands of dollars.
‘Ashli Babbitt Was Murdered’: Trump
Aaron Babbitt, Ashli Babbitt’s widower, said he was “very disappointed” with McCarthy’s remarks.
“I’d venture to guess that Speaker McCarthy has very little actual knowledge about the events that led to my wife’s murder,” Babbitt told The Epoch Times.
“Speaker McCarthy gave an ill-informed, stupid answer to a stupid question from a hack reporter,” Babbitt said. “There’s a reason he’s known as a blunderer. He has a lot to learn from Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has done a deep dive into my wife’s murder. She is far more knowledgeable on the subject.”
McCarthy’s pronouncement lit up social media on both sides of the issue. “The real Kevin has shown up,” one man wrote on Twitter. “Swamp rat,” said another. Philip Anderson, who was trapped along with Rosanne Boyland in a human stampede on the Lower West Terrace on Jan. 6, said McCarthy is “exposing himself for the absolute RINO, traitor, and coward that he truly is.”
Jan. 6 detractors pounced on the topic. “Finally, a true statement from @SpeakerMcCarthy,” one woman wrote on Twitter. “The officer did his job. She didn’t belong there and posed a threat to officers,” another woman said.
Former President Donald J. Trump ripped the idea that Byrd was just doing his job.
“I totally disagree with the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, in that the police officer ‘thug,’ who has had a very checkered past to begin with, was not just ‘doing his job’ when he shot and killed Great Patriot Ashli Babbitt at point-blank range,” Trump posted on Truth Social.
“Despite trying to keep him anonymous, shielded and protected, this MISFIT proudly showed up on NBC Fake Nightly News ‘bragging’ about the killing,” Trump wrote late Thursday.
“He was not a hero but a COWARD, who wanted to show how tough he was. ASHLI BABBITT WAS MURDERED!!!”
Murder Under Color of Authority
Byrd’s views on the shooting being justified are far from universal. One of the nation’s top police use-of-force experts said Babbitt was “murdered under the color of authority.” In The Epoch Times documentary, “The Real Story of Jan. 6,” Stan Kephart said Babbitt was not an imminent threat to anyone.
Byrd and other officers could have pulled Babbitt through the window and handcuffed her, or they could have retreated until her intentions became clearer, Kephart said.
Supporters of the Babbitt family have high hopes that a new House investigative panel will examine the shooting, as well as the deaths of Rosanne Boyland, Benjamin Phillips, and Kevin Greeson. The Jan. 6 Select Committee did not investigate the deaths that occurred on Jan. 6.
McCarthy’s statement put him directly at odds with Rep. Greene (R-Ga.), who described the shooting as a murder during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Jan. 31.
“There is a woman in this room whose daughter was murdered on Jan. 6,” Greene said. “Ashli Babbitt, there’s never been a trial. In fact no one has cared about the person that shot and killed her, and no one in this Congress has really addressed that issue. The January 6th Committee did not address it.”
Greene was referring to Micki Witthoeft, Babbit’s mother, who was in the gallery during the House Oversight Committee meeting. Witthoeft is in Washington meeting with congressional leaders to garner support for a new Jan. 6 investigation.
Witthoeft was not pleased with McCarthy’s statement on the shooting of her daughter.
“I will be making his office my first stop Monday,” Witthoeft told The Epoch Times. “I want to ask him if he’s had the stomach to watch my daughter’s murder, or if he just says whatever his handlers tell him to say.”
I respect & admire McCarthy for speaking the truth even when his friends & colleagues strongly disagree with him. The officer had a legal &moral duty to protect himself and others who had retreated behind locked doors. Someone had broken the window beside the door & Ashli Babbitt was climbing in through that broken window when she was shot. The “Peaceful Protestors” were all outside the building. An unarmed person acting with a mob is a criminal none the less.