Was Ashli Babbitt a ‘Martyr’ or Just Misled?
Was Ashli Babbitt a “terrorist” or a “freedom fighter?”
I’m more accustomed to hearing that question asked about insurgents in countries less developed than this one.
But, the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump has brought a lot of formerly foreign headaches closer to home.
Babbitt was a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, QAnon believer and Trump supporter when she was fatally shot during the violent siege, which resulted in five deaths, an estimated $500 million in damage to the building and hundreds of arrests.
Five officers also have died from causes that Washington’s chief medical examiner attributed to “all that transpired” during the riot. Four were by suicide and the fifth, Capitol police Officer Brian Sicknick, died a day after the riot from two strokes.
Babbitt’s name returned to national news Thursday when Lt. Michael Byrd, the Capitol police officer who shot her, publicly revealed his identity for the first time in an exclusive interview with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt.
Byrd told Holt he fired his weapon as a “last resort.”
As widely broadcast video shows, Babbitt was shot as she was climbing through a broken window in a barricaded door that led to the Speaker’s Lobby, just outside the House chamber where the 2020 presidential election votes were being certified.
Furniture stacked up on his side of the doors obscured Byrd’s ability to see whether Babbitt had a weapon as she climbed through the door’s broken window, despite shouted warnings for the group she was in to step back.
“I tried to wait as long as I could,” Byrd told Holt. “I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors.” But their failure to comply, he said, required him to “take the appropriate actions to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”