WASHINGTON – A United States Capitol Police officer was arrested Friday for obstructing justice by telling a man who illegally entered the Capitol during the January 6 riot to suppress evidence of his actions that day from her social media accounts.
Michael A. Riley, 50, a member of the agency’s K-9 unit with over 25 years in the force, is the first officer charged with a crime in connection with the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill , when dozens of his fellow officers were beaten, bloodied and injured by a pro-Trump mob spurred on by the lie of widespread electoral fraud.
He was released pending a hearing on October 26.
According to an indictment by a federal grand jury in Washington, on January 7, Agent Riley contacted an acquaintance who had posted images of himself inside the Capitol on Facebook during the attack for the ‘Encourage removal of evidence that he was in the building. . Officer Riley did not know the man personally, according to the indictment, but had recently met him through an online group for fishing enthusiasts.
“I am a Capitol Police officer who agrees with your political position,” the officer wrote to the man, according to the indictment. “Take the part of being in the building they’re investigating now and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged.” I’m just looking !
Agent Riley and the man then exchanged dozens of messages.
“I’m glad you got away with it unscathed,” Constable Riley wrote at one point. “We have had over 50 officers injured, some quite seriously. “
Officer Riley responded to reports of an explosive device near the Capitol on January 6, but was not defending the building when the crowd stormed in, disrupting the official Congressional electoral vote tally to confirm the president’s victory Biden.
On January 20, the unidentified man went to police and told them he had spoken with Constable Riley, then warned the officer that federal law enforcement officials knew that they communicated.
“The FBI was very curious that I told you if they haven’t asked you about me already, they will,” the man wrote to Agent Riley, according to the indictment. “They took my phone and downloaded everything. “
After receiving this message, Agent Riley deleted all of her Facebook messages with the man and the next day sent him a final Facebook message, according to the indictment.
“Another mutual friend was talking about you last night. I tried to defend you but then he showed me a video of you at the Capitol smoking weed and acting like a jerk, “he wrote.” I have to say I was shocked and stunned, because your story of being pushed into the building with no other choice now not only seems wrong, but is a complete lie.I feel like a jerk to believe you.
Constable Riley has been charged with two counts of obstructing justice, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
In a statement, Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger called the allegations “very serious” and said the department’s professional liability office would open an administrative investigation into the officer’s conduct.
“The department was informed of this investigation several weeks ago,” he said in a statement. “Upon his arrest, the officer was placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the case.”
The charges against Constable Riley come after an internal Capitol Police investigation recommended six other officers be punished for their actions during the riot. Three officers were singled out for improper conduct, one officer for failing to follow directions, one officer for inappropriate remarks and one officer for improper dissemination of information, Capitol Police said in a statement.
None of these officers have been named or charged with a crime.
Even though the majority of the police force struggled with the trauma of the attack, videos widely shared on social media appeared to show some officers treating rioters with sympathy or doing little to prevent them from entering the compound.
Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick died of a stroke in hospital after pushing back the crowds, and at least 73 officers were injured that day after being assaulted with masts. flag, fire extinguishers and hockey sticks, injuries ranging from bruises to concussions. and burns.
Four officers who responded to the Capitol riot later committed suicide.