Sheriff Who Became Congressman Questions Michael Byrd’s Decision to Kill Unarmed Ashli Babbitt
Rep. Troy Nehls (TX-22) has issued a lengthy statement questioning Lt. Michael Byrd’s use of lethal force against Ashli Babbitt, who was unarmed, at the US Capitol on January 6.
Nehls disavowed the behavior of the protesters who breached the Capitol and those who have threatened Byrd following his decision to go public in an NBC News interview. Yet speaking as a former police officer and Fort Bend County sheriff, he said he has “serious questions” about Byrd’s killing of Babbitt and his full exoneration.
“According to his own admission in the interview, Lt. Byrd moved from Verbal Commands (level 2) to Lethal Force (level 6), without going through the proper deescalation levels in between (3. Physical Control by Hand; 4. Pepper Spray, Baton, Taser; 5. Less Than Lethal Force),” Nehls wrote.
“Why leap to Lethal Force? By his own admission, Lt. Byrd reported that he could not see her hands, and therefore didn’t know whether she was armed or unarmed. She was unarmed. That’s why you don’t shoot if you don’t know,” he added.
Nehls’ full statement, which can be read in its entirety here, also touched on the fact that Babbitt never acted violently toward any police officer. Even if she had made it through one of the Capitol’s broken windows, he said, Byrd had “numerous Less Than Lethal” options at his disposal.
“I have yet to find a law enforcement officer who believes the shooting was indisputably justifiable, and after listening to Lt. Byrd’s interview, I find myself more confident that it wasn’t,” Nehls concluded.
Big League Politics recently reported on Byrd’s NBC News interview. Here is some of what he said:
“Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd said in an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, speaking publicly for the first time since the riot. “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,” added Byrd.
Byrd continued, justifying his killing of Ashi Babbit and even praising himself for doing so.
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd said. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”
“I tried to wait as long as I could…” he told Holt.
“…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,” Byrd said in an effort to further justify his homicide.