Watching the Thursday, August 12 Edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, I was treated to a brief video of the execrable, traitorous and surely compromised Rep. Eric Swalwell (Fang Fang, China) calling Lt. Michael Byrd, the murderer of Ashli Babbit, a great hero who saved him and all the other congresscritters from certain death. Carlson was reasonably outraged, and part of that outrage was expressed in saying federal agents can’t shoot people without giving them a verbal warning, which Carlson said Byrd–he didn’t identify him by name–didn’t do. In this, Carlson is not only wrong on the law, but missing the point.
One can’t be hard on Carlson. He’s right. It is an outrage, and dangerous to our republic. He is responding, in part, to the narrative, which is claiming that Byrd, who has yet to be positively identified by the government or any pseudo-official source as Babbitt’s killer, though he has been anonymously exonerated by the government in vague terms, did too give her verbal warnings, a bunch of them in fact, so he was completely justified in shooting her when she didn’t respond. “After all,” say the people who hate and want to defund the police when they’re not prosecuting them, “if you disobey the police, you deserve to get shot,” but only, apparently, in the halls of Congress. Consider this from American Greatness:
But [Kevin] Cramer [R-ND] went further. The public has no right to know [the identity of Ashli Babbitt’s killer], he asserted, ‘because the person that [sic] shot her is a police officer shooting a criminal not complying with officers’ telling her ‘stop, don’t come through that window, we have guns drawn, don’t do it.’
One can’t be too hard on most Americans, whose understanding of the law relating to the use of deadly force is gleaned from TV cop dramas, and who get nothing but the narrative from government, the media, and even Republican congressmen. However, the Department of Justice, which cleared Byrd, and which is duly and dully supporting the narrative should know better. Perhaps expecting competence from them is too much? It’s a topic I’ve already addressed in this series, and after reading this article, you’ll know better too, gentle readers. Enter “capital coverup” in the SMM homepage search bar to find every article in this series.
I’ll not cover the criteria of innocence and avoidance, as they don’t generally apply to police officers acting under color of law, doing their duty. The remaining three, however, do apply to the police:
Imminence: One can’t use deadly force against a possible attack, or against an attack that might happen at some time in the future. The threat must be real, clearly about to occur–within mere seconds of occurring–or already occurring.
Proportionality: the threat can’t be of humiliation or minor injury. A reasonable person–a reasonable police officer–must believe nothing less, at that moment, than deadly force will suffice. They must believe they’re facing–or another is facing–at the moment they pull the trigger, a threat—an imminent threat–of serious bodily injury or death, and deadly force is necessary to stop it.
Reasonableness: A reasonable person in the same circumstances would be compelled to use deadly force. To do anything less would be unreasonable and would result in serious bodily injury or death to the officer or an innocent.
Notice there is nothing in these criteria about issuing any kind of warning prior to using force. That’s because there is, all too often, no time to do any such thing. Deadly force situations often happen very, very quickly, and if one doesn’t respond equally quickly, they end up seriously dead. Understanding this reality, the law does not require warnings, though if there is time, and this is highly situational, any professional officer will try to use words to avoid having to use force. Still, it is not required, legally or morally, and anyone failing to respond to a warning is not, merely by failing to respond, fair game.
Let’s apply the three criteria, briefly, to what we know about Babbitt’s murder. Byrd had been in the locked and barricaded House chamber. For reasons unknown, he, apparently alone, breached those barricades and locked doors, to enter the empty hallway outside the chamber. He stood in an alcove with a bank of locked doors to his immediate right.
On the other side of those locked doors to the Speaker’s Lobby were a number of protestors. They had broken out the window on one of the doors, the door farthest from Byrd and the House chamber but as Byrd stood there, no one was trying to break any additional windows, nor were they trying to break through the doors. This is likely because there were many uniformed, helmeted Capital Police, most carrying long guns, right there on the opposite side of the locked doors from Byrd.
Ashli Babbitt, all 5’2”, 110 pounds of her, managed to climb up onto the narrow door ledge where the window glass was only minutes earlier. That was the only broken window in that bank of doors. She was precariously perched, crouched, both feet on the ledge, both hands holding the sides of the frame. She had nothing in her hands—she couldn’t; she was trying to maintain her balance—and no one could have possibly, reasonably believed she was a threat to anyone.
Yet, Byrd rushed about 6’ toward her into the hallway, fully extended his .40 caliber Glock handgun, and shot her in the neck. She immediately fell backward, making no attempt to break her fall, landing on the floor—hard–on her back, dying and likely unconscious, perhaps even paralyzed.
Some in the crowd, and the Capital police who were right there, tried to help her, but she was mortally wounded and died shortly thereafter. No one could have known with certainty she was unarmed until later, but no one could have reasonably believed she was armed either—there was no indication of that, ever.
Again, the narrative is Byrd repeatedly warned her before firing, but if so, no one present heard any such thing, and no warning is audible on the video evidence in the public domain. Even if Byrd did warn her, there is no evidence she heard him or that she was ever aware of his presence. And once again, it is entirely irrelevant. This is what is solely relevant:
Imminence: we have video of the shooting, so we know no reasonable person could have believed Ashli Babbit, balanced precariously on the ledge, both hands occupied keeping her balance, was any kind of threat to anyone, imminent or future. There were multiple officers behind her, within a few feet of her. All Byrd needed to do was take a moment to get their attention and gesture to them to pull her back on their side of the doors. Remember too the doors to the House chamber were still locked and barricaded and covered by multiple armed agents. Even if tiny Ashli Babbit had managed to jump down to the floor of the hallway outside the House chamber without hurting herself, to do any damage to the members of the House who had already been evacuated and were continuously guarded by armed agents, she would have to get past Byrd, who was aiming his handgun at her, the locked and barricaded House chamber doors and the many armed agents manning those barricades.
Remember the armed agents on the other side of the Speaker’s Lobby doors? They had the crowd under control. There was no threat forthcoming from that vector. Even if Babbit tried to enter the locked, barricaded and heavily guarded chamber, the epically heroic Lt. Byrd stood manfully in her way. If he could not handle—without resorting to deadly force—a single tiny woman, what was he doing in the Capital Police at the rank of Lieutenant?
But this is all speculation. We know Babbit, when shot, was no threat—imminent or otherwise–to anyone. She was not in a position to be a threat to anyone, nor could any reasonable, non-panicky person have believed she was. It’s never enough to think someone might be a threat of some kind at some time in the future. We’re speaking about killing people. The threat has to be obvious and imminent, not just a moment’s panic, but supportable by evidence. If it’s not, Boyd fails the imminence test, there is no possible justification for shooting and we need analyze no further, but for the purposes of this article, we continue.
Proportionality: deadly force is lawful only when one is presented with the imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death, when a reasonable person would believe if they did not shoot at that instant, they, or another, would be, imminently, seriously injured or killed. There is no evidence Babbit ever saw Byrd, in fact, all known evidence indicates she did not. Where is the threat to Byrd? The hallway, the immediate area, was empty. Where is the threat to others? Babbitt was precariously balanced on a wooden door ledge only about 2” wide, crouched, and both hands were occupied keeping her from falling. Where was any threat of any kind at the moment Byrd pulled the trigger? Could he not simply have walked a few feet and eased the off-balance, vulnerable Babbitt back through the door to the other side? Could he not have enlisted the help of one of the many officers on the other side of the doors to help him, or to personally move Babbit? Was his only possible lawful, moral and practical option, at that moment, to shoot Babbitt in the neck? If it was not, Byrd fails the proportionality test.
Reasonableness: We already know the answer to this criteria. No reasonable person, beholding Ashli Babbit precariously perched on that ledge could have reasonably believed she was any kind of danger. They might only reasonably believe she was in imminent danger of falling and hurting herself. Even if she managed to reach Byrd’s side of the door uninjured, a reasonable person would still need some specific, observed, articulable threat prior to using any level of force. Remember, we’re not talking about the past or some possible future, but the moment the shot was fired. No one was trying to breach those doors, and only tiny Ashli Babbitt crouched on that ledge, unmoving. Byrd had a great many options far short of deadly force. Byrd failed the reasonableness test.
Police officers can scream “stop or I’ll shoot!” They can flash the message on a digital billboard. They can deliver it in writing. They can accompany the message with music and choreography, but unless they can articulate, and back with evidence, that each of the three criteria—not just one or two, but all three—were operant and fulfilled at the moment they pulled the trigger, they have not acted lawfully, but have committed some degree of murder. It doesn’t matter if they’re scared. It doesn’t matter if they think they’re protecting a bunch of panicky, cowardly congressmen (Byrd wasn’t; they had all been evacuated and were constantly under guard), if the three criteria are not, at the moment of firing, completely fulfilled, if every other reasonable police officer in the world would not have fired at that instant—remember, the multiple officers armed with long guns mere feet from Babbitt obviously didn’t think her a threat–they act unlawfully when they shoot.
Why doesn’t the Department of Justice, the consummate professionals charged with upholding the rule of law, understand this? Because they’re not, in this instance, upholding the rule of law.
Because a foolish police administrator, a man who reportedly left his handgun in a bathroom in the past, a man with negligent, deadly dangerous handgun handling skills, a man who for reasons still unexplained breached the locked and barricaded house chamber, a man who panicked at no threat and fired, Ashli Babbitt is dead. Because the Democrat/Socialist/Communist controlled House and Senate needs the events of January 6, 2021 to be worse than Pearl Harbor, an insurrection that came within a millimeter of bringing down our republic, because they need that distraction for the 2022 and 2024 elections, the heroic Byrd will never be called to criminal account for his murder of Ashli Babbitt. Not in this world.