Monday, June 19, 2023

One Small Step for Federal Law Enforcement


This is completely unnecessary and an attempt to whitewash an attempted coup.

The department’s decision to formally close the case followed the results of a preliminary inquiry that determined in February that charges were not warranted....

In conducting their investigation, prosecutors inspected videos posted on social media, evidence from the scene of the shooting, Ms. Babbitt’s autopsy and statements from the lieutenant, who has not been named, the Justice Department said. Officials determined there was “insufficient evidence” to warrant a criminal prosecution....

The investigation into her shooting involved civil rights prosecutors who opened an excessive force inquiry. In its statement on Wednesday, the Justice Department said that inquiry had not produced evidence that the police lieutenant had willfully deprived Ms. Babbitt of her civil rights.

Later that day the officer was interviewed by NBC, which reported

In the chaotic minutes before he shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Lt. Michael Byrd focused his attention on the glass doors leading into the lobby of the House of Representatives chamber.

About 60 to 80 House members and staffers were holed up inside, and it was Byrd’s job to protect them.

As rioters rampaged through the Capitol, Byrd and a few other officers of the U.S. Capitol Police set up a wall of furniture outside the doors.

“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, who gave NBC News permission to use his name after authorities had declined to release it.

Byrd’s connection to what was going on outside and inside the building was his police radio. For several minutes, it crackled with a cascade of alarming messages.

There were shouts of officers down. Screams from his colleagues under attack by rioters with chemical agents. A report that an officer’s fingertips were blown off.

“It was literally broadcast over the air,” Byrd said. “I said, ‘OK, this is getting serious.’”

Soon a horde of demonstrators arrived. Byrd, a 28-year veteran of the Capitol Police, took a defensive posture with his gun drawn as rioters smashed the glass doors.

He said he yelled repeatedly for them to get back. But the mob kept pressing forward, and then a lone rioter tried to climb through one of the doors.

What happened next was captured on video: Byrd fired one shot, striking Babbitt in the shoulder.

Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran and ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, fell to the ground; she died from her injuries later.



According to a Texas Monthly story published exactly one year after the insurrection, Texan Nehls and four other Republican members disregarded a directive from police to leave the House chamber, and joined four other Republican members who "made (a) decision to stay and seek to hold that hallowed ground."

In contrast to Nehls, one of them, Oklahoma's Markwayne Mullin, has stated that Byrd "was the last person in the world who ever wanted to use force like that and he wasn't prone to do that. I know for a fact because after it happened, he came over. He was physically and emotionally distraught. I actually have him a hug and said 'Sir, you did what you had to do.'

Yet, as The times noted, Babbitt's " death became a rallying cry for the far right, which described Babbitt as a martyr. Trump himself declared that she had been murdered and suggested, falsely, that the officer who shot her worked for a high-ranking Democrat."

A rallying cry and source of demagoguery, indeed. Yet, Byrd proceeded with caution. As the video indicates, other officers, confronted by overwhelming numbers of individuals clearly determined to breach the chamber, stood aside.  With one- not multiple- shot, Byrd brought down the individual who decided to enter through the broken window to enter the restricted area. Had she made it through, dozens probably would have followed and innumerable members of the House threatened with violence, even death.

In stark contrast to Nehls, one of the Representatives who tried to deter the rioters, Oklahoma's Markwayne Mullin, has stated that Byrd "was the last person in the world who ever wanted to use force like that and he wasn't prone to do that. I know for a fact because after it happened, he came over. He was physically and emotionally distraught. I actually have him a hug and said 'Sir, you did what you had to do.'

Personal expression of support and a hug are nice. However, Lt. Byrd deserves much more. A Presidential Medal of Freedom should be awarded by Joe Biden. It would be highly controversial but the bully pulpit offers the President of the USA a unique, unparalleled opportunity to do what's right.



              

 


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