Judicial Watch: Records from DC Metropolitan Police Reveal New Information and Questions about U.S. Capitol Police Shooting of Unarmed Ashli Babbitt
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it received 532 pages of documents from the DC Metropolitan Police about the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol Building.
Judicial Watch obtained the documents through a May 2021 FOIA lawsuit filed after DC failed to respond to two April, 2021 FOIA requests submitted by Judicial Watch to the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for records related to Babbitt’s death (Judicial Watch v. The District of Columbia (No. 2021 CA 001710 B)).
Babbitt was shot and killed as she climbed through a broken interior window in the United State Capitol. She was unarmed, and a 14-year Air Force veteran. The identity of the shooter was kept secret by Congress as well as federal and local authorities for eight months until U.S. Capitol Police officer Michael Byrd went publicto try to defend his killing of Ms. Babbitt.
On April 14, 2021, the Justice Department issued a press release stating: “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice will not pursue criminal charges against the U.S. Capitol Police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt…”
The new records include the January 6, 2021, Metro PD Death Report for Babbitt (identified as Ashli Elizabeth McEntee-Babbitt Pamatian). The investigators note that the possible Manner of Death was “Homicide (Police Involved Shooting).” The narrative description of the “Terminal Event” (Babbitt’s death) notes that “the victim was shot inside of the U.S. Capitol building. After being shot, the victim was transported to Medstar for advance life support, however after several attempts to revive the victim, she succumb [sic] to her injury and was pronounced dead at 1515 hours by Dr. [redacted] the attending physician.” Under the “Investigation/Medical History” portion of the report, the investigators wrote, Babbitt “was involved in a first amendment demonstration at the U.S. Capitol…. the decedent was shot by a member of Law Enforcement after breeching a secured room at First Street, Southeast, Washington, DC, (U.S. Capitol Building).” Under description of the Body, the investigators note, “The decedent suffered a single gun shot wound to the upper portion of the left chest near the clavicle.”
In a January 6, 2021, “Incident Report,” under “Public Narrative,” the investigators wrote, “On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Subject-1 had entered the United States Capitol during a riotous event. While inside of the building, Subject-1 had attempted to enter a secured area and was shot in the chest. Subject-1 was transported to a local trauma hospital where lifesaving efforts provide futile. Subeject-1 was pronounced dead at 1515 hours by Dr. [redacted].”
Under the “Internal Narrative” section, the investigators wrote:
On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Lieutenant Michael Byrd of the Unites States Capitol Police was assigned as the House Chamber Commander during the day work tour of duty. At approximately 1446 hours, while providing protection to the House Chambers during a riotous act, Lieutenant Byrd discharged his issued service pistol and struck Subject-1 in the chest. Lieutenant Byrd’s issued service pistol was initially secured by members of the United States Capitol Police, Internal Affairs Division, however, the service pistol was ultimately taken by the Department of Forensic Sciences. The office involved shooting is being investigated by the MPD-IAD and is assigned IS# [redacted].
On January 7, 2021, a “Senior Police Officer/Agent” in the Metro PD Internal Affairs Division emailed an Assistant U.S. Attorney:
[P]lease let this serve as an official notification regarding a serious use of force. On January 6, 2021, United States Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd … was involved in a fatal, Use of Force (Service Pistol) approximately 1446 hours while in an area of the Capitol building known as the Speakers Lobby. Lieutenant Byrd discharged his service pistol one time which struck Ms. Ashli McEntee in her left shoulder … I will be the lead agent regarding Lieutenant Byrd’s UOF
An April 14, 2021, letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips to Metro PD Assistant Chief Wilfredo Manlapaz, notifies Manlapaz:
This office has considered the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged use of excessive force in the above-captioned case [United States Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd]. We have decided to decline criminal prosecution of the above-listed officer as a result of this incident. Accordingly, this matter is referred to you for whatever administrative action you deem appropriate.
A Metro PD Internal Affairs Division report indicates that the Internal Affairs Division interviewed Lt. Michael Byrd and another United States Capitol Police officer (whose name is withheld), on January 6, 2021, at 7:38 p.m. and the interview was recorded. The investigators notes that Byrd, on duty that day since 7:00 a.m., was only equipped with his service weapon, but no ASP (telescoping baton) or OC (pepper spray). He’d last qualified on the shooting range on October 22, 2020. The report notes, “Lieutenant Byrd declined to provide a statement until he can consult an attorney.” The interviewing agent asked Byrd to have his attorney contact him.
The records include a January 6, 2021, Internal Affairs Division report of an interview conducted of a United States Capitol Police Sergeant, whose name is withheld:
Someone on the House Floor shouted that there had been shots fired. Sergeant [redacted] was advised that the sound was breaking glass, not gunshots. He radioed that the report of gunshots was incorrect, that it was glass breaking. Sergeant [redacted] was approached by an officer who advised that the sound was, in fact, gunshots. Sergeant- went back over the radio and reported that there were gunshots on the House Floor.
Sergeant [redacted] walked out of the House Chamber, into the Speaker’s Lobby and observed glass being broken out of the doors and windows at the east end of this area. He observed that an officer and Lieutenant Byrd had taken up positions and had their guns out. Sergeant [redacted] took his gun out and positioned himself behind a pillar in the Speaker’s Lobby.
A glass panel came completely out of one of the windows and a protester started to come through the opening. There was a lot of screaming and Sergeant – heard someone yelling, “get back, get back.”
Sergeant [redacted] was positioned furthest away from this barricaded door and Lieutenant Byrd was positioned the closest.
Sergeant [redacted] observed a white, female protester was climbing through an opened area where the glass pane had been knocked out. He heard a gunshot and this female fell backwards through the opening. The crowd on the other side of the barricaded east doors, began to step back and some put their hands in the air. Sergeant [redacted] observed Lieutenant Byrd step back just after hearing the gunshot. He did not see anything in the female protester’s hands prior to the gunshot.
Sergeant [redacted] never went on the other side of the barricaded east door. He also did not know that it was Lieutenant Byrd who shot his gun until he talked to him moments after it occurred. Lieutenant Byrd looked upset and stated, “I was the one who took the shot.”
In a written transcript of the interview of the aforementioned U.S. Capitol Police sergeant, it appears his name is Sergeant McKenna. He says during the interview that the woman climbing through the window was wearing a “gray sweater.” The interviewee continued:
Uh, I saw Lieutenant Byrd kinda. I don’t know if it was before or after. Cause I was trying to figure this out of, but there was at one point where I remember seeing him and he kind of went like this and then came back up again. Uh, I don’t know if that was from him taking the shot and then stepping back from that shot or if it was before that, I can’t, no matter how I tried to rack my brain, I can’t, I can’t figure out when that happened, but uh, so I don’t know if something happened to him where [sic] caused him to take the shot or not.
I actually did what I did, but, uh, I was just, I dunno, I don’t know why it was such a crazy hectic moment that I don’t know what else I could add to it.
The interviewer asks the sergeant if he saw anything in the woman’s hands as she was climbing through the window, and he replies, “I didn’t see anything in her hands now.” Asked when he realized Byrd shot the woman, the sergeant replied, “I said, what, you know? And then he was like, I was the one who took the shot and I was like …” Speaking of Byrd’s reaction the sergeant said, “No, his eyes were red. He was, you could see he was visibly upset and he just, you know, kind of comfort him and told him, you know, we gotta get outta here.” The interviewing agent asked the sergeant about Babbitt being shot, “Did you go up to her [?].” He replied, “No, no, no. I maintained my position.”
After the shooting, the sergeant said Byrd directed him and other officers to go down “into the subway.” The interviewing agent then asks the sergeant several questions, saying, “And I know this is kind of obvious, but, but, I’m gonna ask it anyhow. You’ve worked for the Capitol police department for [redacted] now.” Sergeant replies, “Yes.” The agent then asks, “This was not a typical day, was it?” Sergeant replies, “Definitely not my craziest day there.” The agent, “Nothing like this has with now, has it.” Sergeant replies, “No I’d say the closest one was when we had the, the shots fired back in 2004, 2005 in the Rayburn building …” The agent continues, “Not to pull your man card at all, but was this a frightening situation?” Sergeant replies, “Oh yeah.” The sergeant continued, “Oh yeah. I’m not afraid to say I was, I was scared shit.”
In a January 6, 2021, summary report of an interview of another United States Capitol Police officer by the Internal Affairs Division investigator, the interviewee, who was immediately behind Byrd in the Speaker’s Lobby when Byrd shot Babbitt, said “He did not see Ms. McEntee [Babbitt] in possession of any potential weapons.” The report continued, “He reiterated that he did not observe that she was armed.” The United States Capitol Police officer claimed that “Lieutenant Byrd was shaking, he did not say anything…. Byrd was nervous, teary-eyed, and appeared very upset. His voice also shaky when he called for medical assistance over the radio. Lieutenant Byrd was still very upset.”
In the January 16, 2021, interview transcript of the above United States Capitol Police officer who witnessed the shooting of Babbitt, he reported that a man with a beard in a suit attended to Babbitt after she was shot, and both he and the sergeant above believed the man was with the House Sergeant-at-Arms office, but neither provided his identity. When asked about Lt. Byrd’s demeanor after the shooting, the officer said about Byrd, “He was shaky. He was, he was teary eyed. You know, you can just tell, like, I ain’t gonna say when somebody regrets to do something, when somebody is just nervous, you know, they’ll rub their head, they’ll pace back and forth.” When asked if he heard any verbal commands given by police prior to Babbitt being shot, he replied, “Not at that point” and then “I do not recall that.”
Another Capitol Police officer interviewed on February 4, 2021, by Metro PD’s Internal Affairs Division advised that prior to Babbitt being shot, “He did not hear any verbal commands.”
Another Capitol Police officer was interviewed on February 4, 2021. In the transcript of his interview, he said that after the shooting of Babbitt, Lt. Byrd “was down and out” and “almost in tears.” He noted that when Babbitt was shot, “it wasn’t that loud”, despite having one of his ears completely uncovered. He also reported that he did not hear any verbal commands given by officers.
A January 6, 2021, telephone interview report was of a man who’d claimed to have been in the House Chambers. The man said he saw Lt. Byrd position himself behind a pillar and claimed he heard Byrd shout “loud verbal commands” stating that he would “shoot.” The interviewee also said Byrd fired twice. He went on to say that he felt Byrd had “saved several people’s lives” through his actions. According to the transcript, the interviewee “reached out” to the Metro PD to give his statement.
In the transcript of this interview, the interviewee said, “We started talking about evacuating the, uh, all the members or we didn’t really have that conversation.” He went on to say of Byrd, “He was yelling, he was giving commands. Um, he was saying, I will shoot. Uh, he was saying some other stuff. I couldn’t clearly make out what he was saying, but he was definitely, uh, giving commands, no question about it.” He continued: “He [Byrd], uh, did everything he could do…. He was by himself, we were defending the front door and they were shaking it.” He went on to claim that Byrd “fired two shots.” The interviewee said he had a “conversation” with Byrd after Byrd shot Babbitt. He claimed that Byrd was “giving commands” and “threatening to use lethal force.”
A DC Department of Forensic Sciences crime scene examination report filed January 11, 2021, indicated that among Babbitt’s personal possessions was a “Para force” folding knife.
A DC Forensics crime scene examination report dated January 10, 2021, indicated that one spent shell casing was recovered from the scene. A police service weapon from “P1” [Lt. Byrd] was turned over to the Forensic department. The police observed a blood trail from the hallway outside the Speaker’s Lobby doors leading down to the first floor of the House in the security area. Babbitt’s backpack contained clothing, stickers, U.S. currency, a face mask, a California driver’s license in the name of Ashli McEntee, four credit cards in the same name, gloves, sunglasses, a wallet and cigarettes. The handgun turned over was a Glock 22 .40 cal. The shell casing was SPEER 40 S&W. 15 remaining cartridges were also turned over with a magazine. A “Trump Nation” and blood-spattered “Trump 2020” flags were also recovered.
In the June 15, 2021, official Internal Affairs Division Investigative Report issued on the Use of Force shooting of Babbitt by Lt. Michael Byrd, the Metro PD investigators noted that the “Violations that led to police contact” were “Felony Rioting/Unlawful Entry” and the “Violations during police contact” was “Felony Rioting.” The investigators further noted that Babbitt had no outstanding arrest warrants, but an entry under “Previous arrests” was fully redacted.
A description of events on January 6 in another report indicates that it was a “representative” on the House floor who first shouted “Shots fired” on January 6. The investigators note, “The crowd on the outside of the previously barricaded east doors began to step back, and some raised their hands in the air. Sergeant [redacted] did not see anything in Ms. Babbitt’s hands prior to hearing the gunshot.” According to the investigators they, “recovered a ‘a para force’ folding knife in Ms. Babbitt’s pants pocket.”
“These previously secret records show there was no good reason to shoot and kill Ashli Babbitt,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Biden-Garland Justice Department and the Pelosi Congress have much to answer for the over the mishandling and cover-up of this scandalous killing of an American citizen by the U.S. Capitol Police.”
These records are part of Judicial Watch’s ongoing investigation into the death of Babbitt and the January 6 disturbance.
In September, Judicial Watch announced that it filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice seeking records related to the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol Building.
Judicial Watch recently filed a motion for discovery in its lawsuit against the United States Capitol Police (USCP) for emails and videos concerning the disturbance at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The Capitol Police are trying to shut down the lawsuit by arguing that the requested records are “not public records.”
On August 3, Judicial Watch announced that it obtained new documents showing the Washington, DC Medical Examiner submitted a request to cremate Babbitt two days after gaining custody of her body. The documents also showed that Babbitt’s fingerprints were emailed to a person supposedly working for the DC government, which resulted in Microsoft “undeliverable” messages written in Chinese characters being returned.
In May, Judicial Watch sued both the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense for records regarding the deployment of armed forces around the Capitol complex in DC during January and February of 2021.
Judicial Watch also filed a lawsuit for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s communications with the Pentagon in the days after the January 6 incident.