The police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt during the US Capitol riot is a 28-year law enforcement veteran — who allegedly once left a loaded gun in a restroom of the building, according to a report ahead of his much-anticipated interview Thursday.
Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, 53, will step forward to identify himself as the officer who gunned down the 36-year-old Air Force vet in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt Thursday evening, according to the Daily Mail.
Byrd, who joined the force in 1993, also made headlines in 2019 for leaving his loaded gun in a Capitol restroom, according to the outlet.
The cop — who was exonerated last week after an internal probe — had been seen in plain clothes with his gun drawn as rioters stormed the building on Jan. 6, according to the outlet.
Byrd’s name was reportedly known to federal investigators and the US Capitol Police, but officials have refused to disclose it, citing concerns about his safety. But his identity had not been confirmed publicly until Thursday.
Babbitt’s family attorney, Terrell Roberts, called his decision to reveal his identity an unexpected turn of events.
“Quite a turn-around, given the months of constantly saying that to identify him would expose him to danger. Where did that one go?” Roberts told the Daily Mail.
“The US Congress wants to protect this man. He’s got friends in high places, and they want to protect him.”
Earlier this week, NBC said the cop would reveal his identity “for the first time” during the interview and “share his perspective on the events of that day, including the aftermath of the deadly insurrection and the threats he has received.”
Byrd shot Babbitt to death as she tried to climb through a busted-out window into the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lobby as part of a wild mob disrupting the certification of President Biden’s victory.
Internal investigations of the officer’s decision to shoot Babbitt concluded that he should not face criminal charges.