Former Capitol Police Chief Terrence Gainer said that President Trump and the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters share some of the blame in Ashli Babbitt’s killing, after the Capitol police officer who shot her unveiled himself this week.
Gainer insisted that Lt. Michael Byrd, who discussed the incident with Lester Holt in an interview that aired on NBC Nightly News on Thursday, had been ‘doing his duty.’
‘Lt. Byrd was doing his duty, and I think the others that were outside with her in that doorway, yelling and screaming and breaking in there, they owe some responsibility for this too,’ Gainer said on CNN’s ‘New Day’ on Friday.
‘I feel bad that she got herself in that position,’ Gainer said of Babbitt. ‘He didn’t shoot someone who was a supporter of President Trump. He shot someone who was in the midst of criminal activity. Trying to get in and do harm to members of Congress.’
‘Lt. Byrd was doing his duty, and I think the others that were outside with her in that doorway, yelling and screaming and breaking in there, they owe some responsibility for this too,’ former Capitol Police Chief Terrence Gainer said on CNN
Ashli Babbitt, above, was shot by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to breach a door near the House chamber on Jan. 6
Gainer said that Babbitt was shot not because she was a supporter of President Trump but becuase she was ‘in the midst of criminal activity’
‘That hurts, and I know that would trouble her parents, it would trouble me, but he did his job. He did what was expected.’
Gainer said he knows the halls of the Capitol, specifically the door Babbitt was trying to force her way through, ‘very, very well.’ He said that Babbitt was ‘just a few feet’ from entering the House chamber where lawmakers were hiding.
‘The people doing this weren’t people on a stroll in the Capitol,’ Gainer said. ‘For whatever reason they came in there, at that moment, at that door, on that floor, they were insurrectionists. They were involved in criminal activity. There’s no doubt about that.
Gainer said that Capitol Police ‘never cared’ how someone got elected, or what political persuasion they were.
‘The men and women of the United States Capitol Police protect them all equally, and I think Lt. Byrd demonstrated that, and the more people keep trying to turn this into some type of conspiracy theory, some execution, including the ex-president, including sitting members of Congress, are doing an injustice to us all.’
The Metropolitan Police Department for months refused to name Byrd for his own safety.
The Metropolitan Police Department for months refused to name Lt. Michael Byrd as Babbitt’s killer for his own safety
Protestors inside the room after Ashli Babbitt is shot by Capitol Police inside the US Capitol, Washington DC. January 06 2021
Ashli Babbit lies wounded after being shot by police inside the US Capitol, Washington DC. January 06 2021
But explaining his decision to finally come forward, Byrd – a 28-year veteran of the force – said: ‘I showed the utmost courage on January 6, and its time for me to do that now.’
Referring to the 60 to 80 members of Congress trapped by the riot, he added : ‘I know that day I saved countless lives.
‘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,’ Lt. Byrd said.
‘I’m hearing about the breaches of different barricaded areas, officers being overrun, officers being down.’
Babbitt’s family’s lawyer said in previous interviews that Babbitt didn’t brandish a weapon, wasn’t in close proximity to any members of Congress and ‘not an imminent threat of death or serious injury to anyone.’
Byrd said he had no idea if the person he shot was carrying a weapon. It was only later that night that he found out the rioter was a woman who was unarmed.
‘I was taking a tactical stance. You’re ultimately hoping that your commands will be complied with, and ultimately they were not,’ Byrd said.
Babbitt’s family’s lawyer has argued he never gave commands. He told Holt during the interview he yelled multiple times, ‘Stop. Get back.’
Then he fired a single fatal gunshot, striking Babbitt in the left shoulder, ‘as a last resort.’
‘You’re taught to aim for center mass the subject was sideways, and I could not see the full motion of her hands or anything so I guess her movement caused the discharge to fall where it did,’ Byrd said.
‘I tried to wait as long as I could. 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.’
He was also asked about his thoughts on Donald Trump calling Ashli Babbit’s death a ‘murder.’
Byrd said: ‘It’s disheartening, if he was in the room or anywhere and I was responsible for him, I was prepared to do the same for him.’