Lawyer for Ashli Babbitt's family says fatal shot at client was 'ambush,' with no command to halt

Authorities have identified the person who shot Babbitt only as a U.S. Capitol Police officer.
Ashli Babbitt near the U.S. Capitol Building January 07, 2021.
Ashli Babbitt memorial January 07, 2021.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

An attorney for the family of Ashli Babbett, a protester killed in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, says the police officer who fatally shot Babbitt failed to warn her before firing and in fact ambushed her.

The attorney, Terry Roberts, made the allegation in an interview with RealClearInvestigations, and in opposition to the attorney of the alleged officer who shot Babbitt, saying his client issued a clear and loud command.

"It’s not debatable," Roberts said. "There was no warning. … I would call what he did an ambush." 

The Babbitt family and others are reportedly upset that the first hearing of the Democrat-led House select committee on Jan. 6 didn’t address Babbitt’s death.

The 35-year-old Babbitt was fatally shot as she attempted to climb through a broken window in a barricaded door leading to the restricted Speaker’s Lobby, off the House floor. 

The unarmed Babbitt was an Air Force veteran and San Diego native.

Authorities have identified the person who shot Babbitt only as a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

The Justice Department said in April that it would not pursue charges against the unnamed officer because there was insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.

The decision came about a week after the medical examiner’s office said Babbitt died of a gunshot wound to her shoulder, and that her death had been ruled a "homicide" because it was the result of "intentional harm of one person by another." 

Several sources have identified the shooter as Lt. Michael L. Byrd, a 53-year-old veteran of the force who was serving as commander of the House Chamber Section of the Capitol Police on Jan. 6. He has not returned to duty and remains on paid administrative leave. Attempts to reach Byrd were unsuccessful, according to RealClearInvestigations.

Taylor, a Maryland personal-injury lawyer, also argues the officer was standing outside of Babbitt’s view when he took aim and shot her.

If Babbitt was not given an opportunity to obey commands before she was shot, it could figure prominently in the family’s planned wrongful-death suit against the officer, RealClearInvestigations also reports.

Roberts told the news website he has interviewed several witnesses who were standing outside the Speaker’s Lobby with Babbitt and that they'll testify they did not hear the officer issue "any kind of warning."

Mark Schamel, the lawyer for the officer who allegedly shot Babbitt, says his client issued verbal commands and warnings to her.

“He was screaming, ‘Stay back! Stay back! Don’t come in here!” said Schamel, who also says he has witness statements supporting his account, the website also reports.