The evidence mounts.
For the past six months, as Congress has proposed legislation to reform police departments across the country, the Capitol Police has stiff-armed government watchdogs, journalists and even lawyers for Babbitt, who have sought the identity of the officer and additional details about the shooting. The USCP still refuses to release his name, in stark contrast to recent high-profile police shootings around the nation.
In February, USCP issued a press release promising to “share additional information once the investigation is complete.” But Justice Department investigators closed their probe in April, clearing the officer of criminal wrongdoing in Babbitt’s death, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide. And last month, the D.C. Police — which shares jurisdiction with the Capitol Police and has led the investigation into Babbitt’s shooting — concluded its own internal review of the shooting without making any findings, according to spokeswoman Kristen Metzger.Still, USCP continues “stonewalling the public,” according to the head of the police union.
“That’s my department’s attorneys for you,” United States Capitol Police Labor Committee Chairman Gus Papathanasiou told RealClearInvestigations. “There is definitely a transparency issue. The department needs to answer those questions. They are stonewalling the public.”
Withholding the name of the officer who fired the fatal shot — the only round fired by anyone during the four-hour siege — has bred speculation on the Internet and led to the mistaken identification of at least one officer. USCP Special Agent David Bailey was wrongly fingered as the shooter on social media and conservative news sites.
Now a new name has surfaced in the Babbitt imbroglio — Lt. Michael L. Byrd — and while USCP Communications Director Eva Malecki won’t confirm he is the shooter, in this case she isn’t denying it.
In a little-noticed exchange, Byrd was cited by the acting House sergeant at arms during a brief discussion of the officer who shot Babbitt at a Feb. 25 House hearing. Both C-SPAN and CNN removed his name from transcripts, but CQ Transcripts — which, according to its website, provides “the complete word from Capitol Hill; exactly as it was spoken” — recorded the Capitol official, Timothy Blodgett, referring to the cop as “Officer Byrd.” His name is clearly audible in the videotape of the hearing (see video embed further below).
Byrd appears to match the description of the shooter, who video footage shows is an African American dressed that day in a business suit. Jewelry, including a beaded bracelet and lapel pin, also match up with photos of Byrd.
Following the shooting, Byrd’s Internet footprint was scrubbed, including his social media and personal photos.
Phone calls and emails to Byrd, who lives in Maryland where he remains on paid administrative leave, went unanswered. His attorney would neither confirm nor deny that the 53-year-old Byrd is the shooter, and warned that disclosing his name poses a safety risk to the officer.
Exactly as it damned well should. Deep State officialdom may be willing to let this trigger-happy oxygen thief get away with murder—quite literally—but there’s absolutely no reason for the rest of us to go along with it, and countless reasons not to. It’s as if these over-entitled, oblivious Deep State orcs were trying to write the manual on how to guarantee that what used to be known in the Old West as “vigilante justice” makes a strong comeback. Want to drive an increasingly put-upon populace into taking the law into their own hands? This is one sure-fire way to do it, assholes.
Unlike other police forces, USCP does not have to disclose records on police misconduct. More than 700 complaints were lodged against Capitol Police officers between 2017 and 2019, but brass won’t say what the alleged violations were or how the department resolved them. They also won’t disclose how many complaints are in any individual officer’s file.
While the USCP has an inspector general, he does not make reports public, unlike other agency watchdogs. His report on Jan. 6 remains secret.
Critics say the 193-year-old agency is in dire need of reform.
Gee, ya think?
They point out that even the Secret Service complies with FOIA requests and releases reports and audits by its internal watchdog. The Capitol Police, in contrast, won’t even reveal how many sworn officers it has on hand.
“Unlike the [D.C. Police] and the vast majority of local police forces, the USCP provides little public information about its activities,” complained Daniel Schuman, policy director of the D.C. watchdog group Demand Progress, in a recent letter to the heads of the congressional panels who have oversight authority over USCP.
D.C. law requires police to identify the officer involved in a police shooting within five business days after an officer-involved death or serious use of force. Officials must publicly release the names and body-camera recordings of all officers involved in the death or use of force. The law does not cover the Capitol Police, however, even though D.C. Police work in conjunction with that agency on homicide cases and fatal traffic accidents.
The Babbitt shooting has thrust this double standard into the national spotlight.
As well it should have. Hopefully, the piss-poor publicity can help to prevent the poor woman’s death-by-State-atrocity from proving to have been in vain.
Mark Schamel, the Washington attorney defending the officer, warned that revealing his client’s name could put his life in jeopardy. He said the officer has received “credible” death threats and has gone into hiding.
Aww, that’s too bad. Hate to hear it. Karma’s a real bitch sometimes, ain’t it?
In case anybody missed it, the killer’s name is Lt Michael L Byrd. Might want to make a note of it; then, if it pops up in future news reports or something, you’ll already know who it is.