Judicial Watch filed a wrongful death suit for $30 million Thursday against the federal government for the shooting of Jan. 6, 2021 protestor Ashli Babbitt at the Capitol.
The conservative public interest firm filed the lawsuit in federal district court in southern California on behalf of Babbitt’s husband, Aaron Babbitt, and her estate.
A news release from Judicial Watch recounted, “Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was a 35-year-old resident of San Diego, California, where she owned and operated a successful pool business with her husband Aaron. Ashli traveled alone from San Diego to Washington, DC, to attend the Women for America First (aka Save America) rally on January 6, 2021, at the Ellipse.”
After the rally during which then-President Donald Trump spoke, Babbitt walked to and entered the Capitol on the Senate side “long after others had done so,” according to Judicial Watch.
Ultimately she ended up in the lobby outside the House side.
“After demonstrators filled the hallway outside the lobby, two individuals in the crowded, tightly packed hallway struck and dislodged the glass panels in the lobby doors and the right door sidelight,” the complaint said.
Lt. Michael Byrd, who is a United State Capitol Police officer and was the incident commander for the House on Jan. 6, 2021, “shot Ashli on sight as she raised herself up into the opening of the right door sidelight.
“Lt. Byrd later confessed that he shot Ashli before seeing her hands or assessing her intentions or even identifying her as female. Ashli was unarmed,” the complaint said.
“Her hands were up in the air, empty, and in plain view of Lt. Byrd and other officers in the lobby. Ashli posed no threat to the safety of anyone. Not one member of Congress was in the lobby, which was guarded by multiple armed police officers.”
The court filing continued, “Lt. Byrd, who was not in uniform, did not identify himself as a police officer or otherwise make his presence known to Ashli. Lt. Byrd did not give Ashli any warnings or commands before shooting her dead.”
The moment of the shooting can be seen in this 2021 NBC News story at the 2:30 minute mark.
In an exclusive interview with @LesterHoltNBC, Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd describes why he’s choosing to identify himself. Byrd shares his account of the January 6 riot, as officers barricaded the door and he fired a single shot, killing Ashli Babbitt. pic.twitter.com/5E7KPtxNc2
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) August 26, 2021
Byrd told NBC he had given commands to Babbitt, and she did not comply.
The suit further alleges that at 2:45 p.m., or within one minute after shooting Ashli, Lt. Byrd called in, “We got shots fired in the lobby. We got shots shots fired in the lobby of the House chamber. Shots are being fired at us and we’re sh, uhh, prepared to fire back at them. We have guns drawn.”
The only shot fired on January 6 was by Byrd.
“In fact, no shots were fired at Lt. Byrd or his fellow officers. 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 backwards from the window frame,” the suit stated.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) January 5, 2024
Judicial Watch also argued that prior incidents involving Byrd should have given the Capitol Police notice that he was “prone to behave in a dangerous or otherwise incompetent manner.”
For example, in February 2019 he “left his loaded Glock 22 — the same firearm he used to shoot and kill Ashli Babbitt – in a bathroom in the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) complex” where thousands pass through each day.
Byrd acknowledged the incident happened during the NBC interview.
Additionally, he had his police powers revoked following an off-duty incident when he shot “into a stolen, moving vehicle in which the occupants were teenagers or juveniles. The stolen vehicle was Lt. Byrd’s car,” the complaint said.
Stray bullets struck homes nearby. “An official investigation found that Lt. Byrd’s use of force was not justified.”
The lawsuit seeks $30 million plus costs for the family.
“The only homicide on January 6 was the unlawful shooting death of Ashli Babbitt. Her homicide by Lt. Byrd is a scandal beyond belief. This historic lawsuit seeks a measure of justice and government accountability for Ashli’s wrongful death,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
“Judicial Watch and our supporters are honored to represent Ashli’s steadfast widower Aaron Babbitt and her estate in this legal action. Ashli was shot in cold blood and the rule of law requires justice for her.”
— Judicial Watch ⚖️ (@JudicialWatch) January 5, 2024
The officer defended his actions during his 2021 NBC News interview.
He said that at the moment he killed Babbitt, “she was posing a threat to the United States House of Representatives.” (3:20 in video above.).
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd added. “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.”
Last year, Byrd was promoted to captain.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.