The mother of a woman labeled as treasonous after being fatally shot by police during illegal riots in the U.S. Capitol spoke out on the anniversary of the death with ironic words for the officer who killed her.
Micki Witthoeft — whose daughter, Ashli Babbitt, was an active participant in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot last year and attended it in part because she embraced the far-right QAnon group that pushed the definitively debunked “big lie” conspiracy theory that Donald Trump, of whom she was an avid supporter, lost the 2020 election because of voter fraud — was in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to commemorate the one-year mark since the violent and deadly insurrection.
She specifically addressed Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, who killed Babbitt in the Capitol just after the 36-year-old Air Force veteran helped smash through a glass door leading to the sealed-off Speaker’s Lobby. Video footage posted on social media shows Babbitt’s final moments alive as she is seen wearing a Trump flag around her neck like a cape and yelling “Go! Go!” as two men lift her up and through the door’s broken glass.
When Babbitt stuck her head through the door, Byrd, wearing in plainclothes, shot her. The footage shows blood coming from Babbitt’s mouth as she fell backward following the gunshot.
Despite those damning circumstances, Witthoeft still told reporters on Thursday that Byrd “murdered” Babbitt and was “careless” and “reckless” during the shooting.
‘I feel like the Capitol police need to change the way they do things, they operate with impunity, which I did not know until my daughter was publicly executed,’ Witthoeft told reporters.
Critics have argued that it was actually Babbitt and the thousands of other insurrectionists who were being “careless and reckless” when they broke into the Capitol and trashed the Senate chamber and looted Congressional offices during the hours-long riot that was organized to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s election.
Byrd, who is Black, broke his silence about the shooting this past summer for the first time since the attempted coup rocked the nation. He explained to NBC News’ Lester Holt that he and a few other officers set up furniture to block the door to the room where 60 to 80 House members were being kept safe from the pack of wild MAGA-enthusiasts who were attacking the Capitol.
“Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd said in an interview that aired on Aug. 27, 2021. “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out. If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress.”
Byrd said he shouted at rioters several times for them to back away from the glass door they were smashing to get into the barricaded area, and that’s when Babbitt tried to climb through one of the doors resulting in Byrd shooting her.
“I tried to wait as long as I could,” he told Holt. “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.”
The Department of Justice in April closed the investigation into Babbitt’s shooting without bringing any charges against Byrd. “The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation,” the DOJ said in a press release, effectively vindicating Byrd.
Meanwhile, Witthoeft — who was also joined Thursday by controversial Trump-supporting Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green — who has said jailed Capitol rioters are being discriminated against because they’re white — and other like-minded insurrection has still tried to make Babbitt a martyr and Byrd a villain, an approach that runs counter to the typical “back the blue” pro-police narrative to which conservatives have especially gravitated.
This is America.