Government watchdog: Feds manipulated description of Capitol riot

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Protesters confront police at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2020. (Video screenshot)

Federal agents manipulated their description of the Jan. 6, 2021, protest at the U.S. Capitol in an apparent move to make them seem more threatening, according to a report from government watchdog Judicial Watch.

The organization reported that officials changed the word “crowd” that originally was used to describe the people who were with Ashli Babbitt when she was shot and killed by a police officer to the word “mob” multiple times.

Judicial Watch said it has received government records about the situation, and “The records include a draft version of the April 14, 2021, Justice Department press release announcing their decision not to prosecute Byrd for the killing of Babbitt, the authors replaced the word ‘crowd’ with the word ‘mob’ five times in describing the January 6 protesters.”

Babbitt, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd as she allegedly tried to climb through a broken window at the Capitol on that day.

Judicial Watch said it has gotten 102 pages of records from the DOJ relating to the shooting.

Federal investigators recommended “that the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia decline for criminal prosecution the fatal shooting of Ashli McEntee [Babbitt].”

Ashli Babbitt
Ashli Babbitt

Babbitt was a 14-year Air Force veteran. The identity of the shooter was kept secret by Congress, the Justice Department, and DC police for eight months until Byrd went public to try to defend his killing of Babbitt, Judicial Watch said.

It eventually sued for the public records about the shooting. The records now released show the federal government reviewed “law enforcement and civilian eyewitness accounts, physical evidence, recorded radio communications, cell phone footage, MPD reports, forensic reports, and the autopsy report for Ms. McEntee.”

The government’s conclusion was that it couldn’t be proved that Byrd used more force than was reasonably necessary.

The documents reveal “He [Byrd] did not create any police reports or documents relating to the incident, and did not provide an official statement regarding use of force.”

The report notes the report confirmed Byrd had “one prior use of force matter, that was originally sustained by USCP, but after Lt. Byrd appealed, he was found not guilty by the Disciplinary Review Board.”

The investigation notes explained, “Because Ms. McEntee was an active participant in a ‘mob’ that had just illegally entered the Capitol building, and then broke out the glass doors and removed barricades to forcefully gain entry into the Speaker’s Lobby, there is insufficient evidence to refute Lieutenant Byrd’s fear for his life or the life of others at the time he discharged his weapon. Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he willfully deprived Ms. McEntee of a right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States of America.”

The watchdog reported, “Judicial Watch previously uncovered records from the DC Metropolitan Police showed that multiple officers claimed they didn’t see a weapon in Babbitt’s hand before Byrd shot her, and that Byrd was visibly distraught afterward. One officer attested that he didn’t recall hearing any verbal commands before Byrd shot Babbitt. The records include internal communications about Byrd’s case and a crime scene examination report. Investigators who wrote the January 6, 2021, Metro PD Death Report for Babbitt (identified as Ashli Elizabeth McEntee-Babbitt Pamatian) note that the possible Manner of Death was ‘Homicide (Police Involved Shooting).’”

“These records show that Lt. Byrd was given special treatment by the Biden DOJ and that there was a miscarriage of justice in the half-baked shooting death investigation of Ashli Babbitt,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Lt. Byrd, who works for Congress, shot an unarmed woman for no good reason. I suspect that this unjustified shooting isn’t of much interest to the Pelosi-[run] January 6 committee.”

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