(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced it received 31 pages of documents from the Department of the Air Force, Joint Base Andrews, MD, that show U.S. Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd was housed at taxpayer expense 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.
The records were obtained in response to a September 2022 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed 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 (Judicial Watch v U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:22-cv-02948)).
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.
The documents show that Lieutenant Byrd and a pet stayed in a “Distinguished Visitor Suite” at the “Presidential Inn” (part of Air Force Inns) under a “Capitol Police Presidential Inn Reservation” for the period July 8, 2021, through January 28, 2022.
Judicial Watch was informed by a representative at Joint Base Andrews that a “Distinguished Visitor Suite” is typically reserved for officers at the rank of O-7 (Brigadier General or higher.).
An August 2021 email from the assistant hotel manager indicates that the U.S. Capitol Police had been paying Byrd’s bills by phone “every 10 days.”
In an email thread beginning in November 2021, an accounting officer from the U.S. Capitol Police asks the Presidential Inn’s assistant lodging manager to provide detailed invoices reflecting all of the charges incurred by Lt. Byrd while staying at the Inn, in an email titled “Reservation Information-USCP [US Capitol Police] guest.” The manager then provides “folios” for Byrd’s reservation at the Inn from July 8 through November 11, 2021. When asked to explain pricing changes for Byrd’s lodging, the hotel manager explains that higher rates were due in part to the fact that Byrd moved from a “Temporary Lodging Facility” into a “Distinguished Visitors Suite.”
The records and an email dated November 15, 2021, indicate the cost of Lt. Byrd’s lodging fluctuated from $161 in July 2021, dropped to $158 for August 2021, increased to $184 for September 2021, $185 for October 2021, and dropped to $165 for November 2021.
On February 7, 2022, the U.S. Capitol Police again asked the hotel manager for detailed invoices for Byrd’s stay. The manager confirmed that Byrd checked out on January 28, 2022, and that there were “sundry items that were used in the room that were not paid for before the guest left.”
The email, appears to confirm the Capitol Police were covering the cost of Byrd’s stay at the Presidential Inn, when a Capitol Police accounting officer tried to clarify Byrd’s hotel bill, asking the hotel manager, “So the hotel is charging USCP for the room and pet fee for January 28-30, or not?”
“These extraordinary revelations forced out by a Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit show Defense Department facilities were used to provide long-term housing for the Capitol Hill police officer who shot and killed Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt,” 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 showing that officers reported 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.