Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Justice for records related to the housing of U.S. Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd at Joint Base Andrews after he shot and killed U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 (Judicial Watch v U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:22-cv-02948)). Judicial Watch has received information that Byrd was housed at Andrews in the immediate period after he killed Babbitt.
The unarmed Babbitt was shot and killed as she allegedly climbed through a broken interior window in the United States Capitol. She 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 in August 2021 to try to defend his killing of Babbitt.
Judicial Watch filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after Joint Base Andrews, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, and the FBI failed to respond to three July 2022 FOIA requests about Byrd’s housing at Joint Base Andrews while his name as the shooter of Ashli Babbitt was being withheld from the public by the government.
In its complaint, Judicial Watch explained to the court that it had asked all three government agencies for all records relating to the billeting of Byrd at Joint Base Andrews during the period from January 6, 2021, to July 2022, including authorization papers, housing, meals, transportation, and visitor logs.
“This is a rather extraordinary January 6 cover-up of why the Defense Department was involved with the aftermath of the improper police killing of an unarmed woman (and a veteran),” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
In June 2022, Judicial Watch produced DOJ records related to the shooting of Babbitt that included a memo recommending “that the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia decline for criminal prosecution the fatal shooting of Ashli McEntee [Babbitt],” also noting that the shooter, Byrd, “did not create a police report or documents” related to the shooting of Babbitt. A footnote details missing evidence: “During the debrief of Lieutenant Byrd, he did recall writing a few sentences on an evidence bag the evening of January 6, 2021, at the request of a crime scene officer. To date, the bag has not been located by USCP or MPD.”
In November 2021, Judicial Watch received multiple audio, visual and photo records from the DC Metropolitan Police Department about the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol Building. The records include a cell phone video of the shooting. An audio file of a police interview of the shooter, Byrd, indicates he declined to cooperate.
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).”
Judicial Watch is engaged in a comprehensive, independent investigation into the January 6 disturbance:
- February 2022: Judicial Watch filed an opposition to the U.S. Capitol Police’s (USCP) effort to shut down Judicial Watch’s federal lawsuit for January 6 videos and emails. Through its police department, Congress argues that the videos and emails are not public records, there is no public interest in their release, and that “sovereign immunity” prevents citizens from suing for their release.
- In November 2021: Judicial Watch – in its FOIA lawsuit asking for records of communication between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and several financial institutions about the reported transfer of financial transaction records of people in DC, Maryland and Virginia on January 5 and January 6, 2021 – told a federal court that the FBI may have violated law in its January 6 probes.