The U.S. Capitol Police officer who killed an unarmed woman inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was housed for months afterward at a military base in Maryland, according to newly disclosed records.
Michael Byrd, the officer, stayed at a visitor suite at the Presidential Inn on Joint Base Andrews from July 8, 2021, through January 2022, according to documents (pdf) released to the nonprofit Judicial Watch as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
The cost to taxpayers was $158 or more per night, with the cost escalating as high as $185 at times. Byrd was joined by an unidentified pet that added $10 per night to the tab.
The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) paid the bill every 10 days by phone, according to an email included in the set of records, about half of which were billing statements.
Byrd was initially in a “Temporary Lodging Facility” but was later moved to “the Distinguished Visitor Suite,” which led to a price hike, according to another email.
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Byrd checked out on Jan. 28, 2022, a hotel manager said. USCP was hit with additional charges because, after he left, hotel workers discovered “sundry items that were used in the room that were not paid for before the guest left.”
A USCP worker said in one email that the hotel was charging the force for the room. USCP is funded by taxpayers.
“These extraordinary revelations forced out by a Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit show Defense Department facilities were used to provide long-term housing for the Capitol Hill police officer who shot and killed Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said in a statement.
USCP and a lawyer who has represented Byrd did not respond to requests for comment.
The records did not provide a justification for housing a USCP officer at a military base.
Byrd Reveals Identity
Babbitt was shot as she climbed through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby, adjacent to the House chamber in the Capitol, on Jan. 6. Video footage showed Byrd shot her.
After reports naming Byrd as the shooter, the officer came forward and defended his actions in a television interview.
“She was posing a threat to the United States House of Representatives,” Byrd said in the interview, which was broadcast in August 2021.
Byrd admitted he did not know Babbitt, who was wearing a backpack, was unarmed.
Footage showed Babbitt was the first person to try to enter the lobby and that multiple other officers were in the lobby.
Department policy says an officer “may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.”
The USCP said Byrd’s actions “potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House Chamber, where Members and staff were steps away.”
Relatives of Babbitt and Terrell Roberts, a lawyer representing the family, have said that evidence shows Byrd was not justified in shooting the woman. Byrd should have taken an alternative action, such as arresting Babbitt, they have said.
Byrd was cleared despite not being interviewed.
That enabled the officer to avoid making false statements, Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), a former sheriff, said.
Mark Schamel, a lawyer representing Byrd, told The Epoch Times via email previously that the DOJ’s determination “is the only correct conclusion following the events of January 6.”
Byrd “fired only one shot at the only person who breached the locked doors and makeshift barricade that had been erected” and “did so after clearly identifying himself and ordering the mob not to come through the barricade,” Schamel added.
Roberts has said the environment was too noisy for Babbitt to hear the commands, if they were made.
Babbitt’s manner of death was ruled a homicide by Washington’s medical examiner. The cause of death was the gunshot, which struck her left shoulder.
Judicial Watch’s suit was filed in October, with the nonprofit alleging Joint Base Andrews refused to properly process a Freedom of Information Act request for information related to Byrd staying on the base.
The act requires agencies to meet certain deadlines after receiving requests for information.
“Plaintiff is being irreparably harmed by Defendants’ violations of FOIA, and Plaintiff will continue to be irreparably harmed unless Defendants are compelled to comply with the law,” the suit stated.
In a joint status report filed with the court just before the New Year, the parties said the Air Force had completed its search for the requested records and expected to produce them by Jan. 23, 2023.
The Department of Justice, another defendant, said a search uncovered no information while the FBI said it had requested clarification regarding Judicial Watch’s request to it.
An updated report is slated to be filed in February.