The Capitol Police officer who shot and killed unarmed Jan. 6. protester Ashli Babbitt, Lt. Michael Byrd, told NBC News in an exclusive interview Thursday evening he showed “utmost courage” and did his job to protect House lawmakers.

“I showed the utmost courage on January 6, and it’s time for me to do that now,” Byrd, a 28-year veteran of the force, told anchor Lester Holt.

“I know that day I saved countless lives,” he said, referring to some 60 to 80 members of Congress who were supposedly still in or around the chamber when a group of protesters broke glass on a door leading to an anteroom near the House chamber and tried to get inside.