Texas Republican Representative Troy Nehls sparked outrage after he claimed that Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a federal officer after breaching the United States Capitol during the January 6 insurrection, was "murdered."
Nehls's statement appeared designed to curry favor with former President Donald Trump's base, who have continued to back his "Big Lie" that the 2020 election was fraudulent despite all evidence to the contrary.
You can hear what he said to Fox News personality Greg Kelly in the video below.
Remarking on Babbitt's death, Nehls said:
"It was murder. I've been a lawman for thirty years. I've had, when I was a sheriff, I had deputies shoot and kill suspects."
"I had deputies shot. I had blue on blue incidents: one of my deputies ended up shooting and killing another deputy."
"The point is I understand a little bit about use of force. I understand a little bit about grand juries. This shooting should have at least gone to a grand jury."
"But the Department of Justice (DOJ) had no intent to do a thorough investigation."
"The shooting took place January 6. By April already they said, 'No charges. We're not going to pursue charges against Lieutenant [Michael] Byrd.'"
"The video is quite clear: It was murder."
However, Nehls' past statements were soon thrown back at him.
According to Politico reporter Olivia Beavers, who has specialized in covering the actions of Congress, Nehls told her on January 15 that security in the House of Representatives would have been "totally justified" if they'd shot rioters who'd attempted to enter the Senate chamber.
She noted Nehls joined United States Capitol Police and other House Republicans in guarding the door from rioters who were attempting to break in.
Social media users abruptly criticized Nehls and suggested his actions were designed to supplicate former President Trump and his followers, who have insisted for months Babbitt was unjustly murdered.
Babbitt spent fourteen years in the United States Air Force before she became radicalized by the QAnon conspiracy theory, which alleges Democrats are part of a Satan-worshipping, baby eating global pedophile ring that conspired against former President Trump during his time in office.
She also often used her social media accounts to promote at least one post calling for a violent uprising that would lead to Trump's second inauguration.
Lieutenant Michael Byrd, the member of the U.S. Capitol Police who shot and killed Babbitt when she attempted to breach the Senate chamber, recalled yelling for rioters to back away from the doors.
Then, in a moment that was captured on video, he fired a single shot that struck Babbitt in the shoulder. She would later die of her injuries.
In an August interview with NBC News that was conducted after he gave the news outlet permission to identify him after authorities had declined to do so, he said he only fired his gun as a "last resort":
"I tried to wait as long as I could. 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 DOJ ultimately cleared Byrd of wrongdoing, noting in a press release that the investigation found no evidence that Byrd had fired his gun without believing that it had been "necessary" to do so "in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber."
The DOJ has since closed the investigation.