WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd told “NBC Nightly News” that he had been investigated by several agencies and exonerated for his actions that day. What he left out was that he refused to be interviewed for any internal probe into the shooting, according to documents reviewed by RealClearInvestigations.
“There’s an investigative process [and] I was cleared by the DOJ [Department of Justice], and FBI and [the D.C.] Metropolitan Police,” he told NBC News anchor Lester Holt in August, adding that the Capitol Police also cleared him of wrongdoing and decided not to discipline or demote him for the shooting.
Not only is it unprecedented to clear any police officer after a shooting without speaking to them, we don’t know of any other incident where it has happened. Police Officer Bill of Rights is the designated mechanism that allows law enforcement to speak following a shooting and when a refusal occurs, that same document is also used for grounds in terminating the police officer.
According to multiple sources discussed at RealClearInvestigations, Byrd was cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting without actually interviewing him about the shooting or being told that his unwillingness to cooperate would bring discipline.
“He didn’t provide any statement to [criminal] investigators and they didn’t push him to make a statement,” Babbitt family attorney Terry Roberts said in an RCI interview. “It’s astonishing how skimpy his investigative file is.”
Roberts, who has spoken with the D.C. MPD detective assigned to the case, said the kid-glove treatment of Byrd raises suspicions the investigation was a “whitewash.”
The lawyer’s account appears to be backed up by a January 2021 internal affairs report, which notes Byrd “declined to provide a statement,” D.C. MPD documents show.
Asked about it, a D.C. MPD spokeswoman confirmed that Byrd did not cooperate with internal affairs officers or FBI agents, who jointly investigated the high profile shooting.
A previous review of documents released by Judicial Watch of the D.C. Metro investigation into the officer involved shooting, revealed that officers present at the scene had no idea why Byrd would shoot, only describing the actions by Babbitt as “animated.”
D.C. Metro communications director Kristen Metzger told RealClearInvestigations that “MPD did not formally interview Lt. Byrd,” And, “He didn’t give a statement while under the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation.”
After Byrd declined to cooperate with D.C MPD Internal Affairs Division’s investigation, his case eventually was turned over to the USCP for a final administrative review of whether or not his actions conformed with department policies and training.
In April, within four months of the shooting, Byrd was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Justice Department, which declined to impanel a grand jury to hear evidence in a departure from other lethal police-shooting cases involving unarmed citizens.
Byrd remains the commander in charge of security for the House of Representatives.