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Capitol Police promotes officers who got Jan. 6 attack spotlight

A lieutenant who shot and killed a pro-Trump rioter and an officer who testified to Congress are on a list of more than 30 promotions

Members of the National Guard are seen near the Speaker’s Lobby at the door where Ashli Babbitt was killed during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, while troops toured the Capitol on Jan. 25, 2021.
Members of the National Guard are seen near the Speaker’s Lobby at the door where Ashli Babbitt was killed during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, while troops toured the Capitol on Jan. 25, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Capitol Police are poised to promote a lieutenant who shot and killed a pro-Trump rioter on Jan. 6, 2021, as well as an officer who vividly testified before a House select committee about the violence she encountered during that attack.

Michael Byrd, who fatally shot rioter Ashli Babbitt as she tried to break into the Speaker’s Lobby, will be promoted to captain, according to an internal announcement reviewed by CQ Roll Call that lists more than 30 employees moving up the ranks on Sunday.

And Caroline Edwards, who recounted how she was knocked unconscious and described the environment at the Capitol that day as a “war zone” with officers bleeding and throwing up, will be promoted to sergeant.

A spokesperson said the department doesn’t discuss specific personnel matters but that “the promotional process is competitive and equitable” and the promotions “were well earned across the Department to include multiple Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants.”

During the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Byrd’s fatal shooting of Babbitt was caught on video as she tried to climb through a broken window and into an area that abuts the House floor. Byrd told NBC that Babbitt posed a threat to the House and that he fired his weapon after commands to get back and stop were not followed.

Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran and follower of the unfounded far-right, pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory, was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where she died. She was not armed.

Former President Donald Trump and his supporters have questioned Byrd’s decision to use lethal force. The Justice Department decided not to bring criminal charges against Byrd, and the Capitol Police’s internal investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility found Byrd’s conduct was “lawful and within Department policy.”

Byrd has faced scrutiny from the department before. In 2019, he left his gun unattended in a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom.

Edwards was on the front lines during the mob’s initial surge toward the Capitol and sustained a traumatic brain injury. She presented dramatic testimony before the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack and was among a group of police officers awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Joe Biden.

“I saw friends with blood all over their faces,” Edwards told the committee in 2022. “I was slipping in people’s blood.”

A slate of promotions for the assistant chief, deputy chief and inspector levels are expected in the coming weeks.

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