Former President Donald Trump is calling on the Department of Justice to reopen an investigation into the police-involved shooting of Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In a video message sent to Babbitt’s family over the weekend while they celebrated what would have been her 36th birthday, Trump praised Babbitt as a “truly incredible person.”
The video was played at a Freeport, Texas, event, “Texas Loves Ashli Babbitt Rally,” and tweeted Sunday by journalist Ford Fischer. Trump’s remarks begin about the 1:56 mark.
“To Ashli’s family and friends, please know that her memory will live on in our hearts for all time,” Trump said.
The former president also recounted Babbitt’s 14-year service in the Air Force, noting she was a security force airman and eventually a senior airman. “She defended our nation overseas including in Iraq to fight in the war on terror,” he said.
Recalling her “tragic” death “that horrible day of January 6,” Trump wished her a happy birthday, and said that he’d spoken to both her husband and her mother.
“There was no reason Ashli should’ve lost her life that day. We must all demand justice for Ashli and her family,” Trump said.
“So on this solemn occasion as we celebrate her life, we renew our call for a fair and nonpartisan investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt. I offer my unwavering support to Ashli’s family and call on the Department of Justice to reopen its investigation into her death on Jan. 6,” he said.
Lt. Michael Byrd, the officer who shot Babbitt, spoke out about the incident during an NBC News interview in August.
“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd said. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”
Byrd called his fatal shot a “last resort.”
“I tried to wait as long as I could,” he told NBC News. “I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors. But their failure to comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”
The U.S. Capitol Police in August said an internal investigation cleared Byrd of any wrongdoing in the shooting.
Multiple cellphone videos captured Babbitt, who had a Trump flag draped around her neck, trying to crawl through a shattered glass pane at the Capitol. Byrd, who was standing on the far side of the doors, fired a single shot, sending her tumbling backward onto the floor.
Babbitt was hit in the shoulder and later died. Her death became a defining moment of the riot.
The Justice Department found in April there was insufficient evidence to prove Babbitt’s civil rights had been violated and that it was reasonable for the officer to believe he was firing in self-defense or in defense of lawmakers fleeing the House chamber.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.