Within a minute after firing the fatal bullet that struck Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd broadcast a radio report claiming shots were being fired at him in the Speaker’s Lobby and he was “prepared to fire back,” a federal lawsuit alleges.
The previously undisclosed radio dispatch is also contained on an audio recording obtained exclusively by The Epoch Times of the “OPS2” dispatch channel used by Capitol Police on Jan. 6.
Information on the recording is contained in a federal lawsuit filed on Jan. 5 by Ms. Babbitt’s widower, Aaron Babbitt of San Diego. Mr. Babbitt, backed in his lawsuit by Judicial Watch, is seeking $30 million from the U. S. government for wrongful death.
According to the lawsuit, Mr. Byrd fired his Glock 22 .40-caliber pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, then announced that he was being fired upon and was ready to return fire.
“In fact, no shots were fired at Lt. Byrd or his fellow officers,” the lawsuit stated. “The only shot fired was the single shot Lt. Byrd fired at Ashli. He heard the loud noise of the gunshot. He saw her fall backward from the window frame.”
The Epoch Times reached out to Capitol Police and Mr. Byrd’s attorney for comment on the lawsuit and its allegations. Mr. Byrd is now a captain with U.S. Capitol Police.
A few minutes prior to the shooting, a police dispatcher mistakenly reported, “They’re taking shots into the House floor.”
“Lt. Byrd erroneously believed and acted on a false radio call and/or false report of shots fired on the House floor occurring before he left the House floor and moved across the Speaker’s Lobby to the adjacent Retiring Room,” the suit said.
“A reasonably prudent officer in Lt. Byrd’s position would have been aware that, in fact, the report was false and the sound heard on the House floor was glass breaking, not shots fired,” the lawsuit alleged.
It is not clear why Mr. Byrd made the statement that he was taking fire and was prepared to fire back. His radio dispatch occurred up to a minute after he fired on Ms. Babbitt, the suit said.
“The facts speak truth. Ashli was ambushed when she was shot by Lt. Byrd,” the lawsuit said. “Multiple witnesses at the scene yelled, ‘You just murdered her.’”
“Lt. Byrd was never charged or otherwise punished or disciplined for Ashli’s homicide,” the suit stated.
Video shot from the hallway outside the Speaker’s Lobby shows Mr. Byrd emerging in a shooting stance with both hands holding the Glock.
In his only public statements about the shooting—made not to investigators but to an NBC television anchor—Mr. Byrd never mentioned his radio dispatch or his claim that shots were being fired at him and other officers. Nor did he use that as justification for firing his weapon and killing Ms. Babbitt.
An unknown U.S. Capitol Police officer first reported shots fired in the U.S. House just before 2:43 p.m., followed later by Mr. Byrd’s shots-fired announcement, according to the audio recording obtained by The Epoch Times. Both reports turned out to be unfounded.
Officer: “Shots fired, House floor. Shots fired, House floor. Immediate assistance.”
Dispatch: “Shots fired, House floor. Shots fired, House floor.”
2nd Dispatcher: “I need units to re…,” which was cut off mid-sentence. That message ceased on the OPS2 channel but was heard in full on the OPS1 channel:
“I need units to respond to the chamber, the House chamber floor,” the dispatcher said. “Again, units need to respond to the House floor in reference to shots fired. They were shots fired at the House floor. Again, units to respond. They’re taking shots into the House floor. We need units to respond to that location. 1443 hours.”
Lt. Byrd: “405-B. We got shots fired in the lobby. We got fot (sic), shots fired in the lobby of the House chamber. Shots are being fired at us, and we’re prepared to fire back at them. We have guns drawn. [Unintelligible] Don’t leave that end! Don’t leave that end!”
Mr. Byrd’s dispatch was followed by 11 seconds of radio silence.
The transcript of the OPS2 radio communications provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as evidence in Jan. 6 criminal cases does not include the words “we’re prepared to fire back at them.” The DOJ transcript instead says, “and it went, so we locked it down.”
Dispatcher: “Simulcasting, shots fired on the House floor again.”
Lt. Byrd: “We’ve got an injured person. I believe that person was shot. It was…” (cut off by another transmission).
Unknown officer: “…Shot, one down, civilian. We need EMTs. We need… Come through on the west side of the building … to the House lobby.”
Dispatch: “That’d be House…”
Lt. Byrd: “405-B, did you copy?”
Dispatch: “I copied. House lobby, west side. Individual…”
Mr. Byrd retreated from the entrance to the seated area in the Speaker’s Lobby. Officer Mike Brown, a member of the USCP Containment and Emergency Response Team (CERT), said Mr. Byrd was “down and out and almost in tears.”
The revelation of Mr. Byrd’s previously undisclosed radio statements raises fresh questions about the shooting of Ms. Babbitt, 35, and the investigation that cleared him of potential charges of excessive use of force.
The DOJ report explaining why no charges were pursued did not mention Mr. Byrd’s radio dispatch.
Mr. Byrd never made a statement to internal affairs officers who investigated the shooting on behalf of U.S. Capitol Police. When he met with DC Metro internal affairs the night of Jan. 6, 2021, he said he wanted to retain an attorney before saying anything.
Mr. Byrd and his attorney did an informal walk-through of the shooting scene with a Capitol Police official in late January 2021 but he was never subjected to questioning.
DOJ Report Contained Errors
The DOJ report absolving Mr. Byrd from culpability included numerous errors and incorrect statements.
The report says that after the glass in the doors leading to the Speaker’s Lobby was smashed out, rioters “were then able to reach through the broken glass and push the chairs off the top of the barricaded furniture.”