US Capitol Police Officer Indicted for Aiding Self-Identified Rioter, Obstructing January 6 Probe
US Capitol Police (USCP) announced last month that disciplinary action had been recommended for six law enforcement officers due to misconduct during the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol. An additional 20 cases were opened against USCP officers, but no wrongdoing was found.
US Capitol Police Officer Michael A. Riley has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges after he allegedly assisted in hiding the evidence of a US Capitol rioter's involvement in the deadly January 6 incident.
The officer, 50, appeared virtually in a federal court on Friday and was released on several conditions, including one requiring him to surrender all weapons, the Associated Press reported
According to court documents recently made public
, Riley - an officer with more than 25 years of experience - first established Facebook contact with a US Capitol rioter via Facebook on January 7.
The rioter had proudly admitted to participating in the incident, and even posted "'selfie'-style photographs, videos and other commentary on Facebook admitting his presence and conduct inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021," the indictment noted.
Shortly after, Riley initiated his first conversation with the rioter, warning him about posting such incriminating content.
“Hey [Person I], im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance. Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to charged," the veteran officer warned. "Just looking out!"
The court document details that Riley and the rioter continued to exchange messages during the month of January. The man who willfully participated in the January 6 storming of the US Capitol also sent a number of videos of himself to the Capitol Police officer. He was seen both inside and outside the government building.
"I get it ... it was a total sh*t show!! Just wanted 10 give you a heads up," Riley said, likely referring to the ongoing investigations to hold rioters accountable. "Im glad you got out of there unscathed We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad."
The rioter went on to assert his innocence, proclaiming that he didn't do anything wrong.
"The only thing I can see is if you went in the building and they have proof you will be charged. You could always articulate that you had no where to go, but thats for court," the officer told the rioter.
Riley added that the man should not "sweat it" because the Federal Bureau of Investigation "might choose to only charge certain people and not everyone."
The Capitol Police officer continued to look out for his new friend, and even instructed the individual to "get off of social media" after someone messaged Riley about the rioter's livestream videos. One video showed the rioter smoking an unknown substance out of a hand-rolled cigarette while inside the US Capitol building.
"Theyre arresting dozens of people aday," Riley wrote to the rioter. "Everyone that was in the building, engaged in violent acts, or destruction of property...and theyre all being charged federally with felonies."
When the rioter replied with confusion about whether he had been charged with a crime, Riley gave the man his phone number and instructed him to call it. The phone call lasted 23 minutes, according to court documents.
The rioter was arrested on January 19 on charges that he unlawfully trespassed in the US Capitol on January 6. During his interview with federal agents, the man revealed his contact with Riley.
"The fbi was very curious that had been speaking to you if they havent already asked you about me they are gonna. - They took my phone and downloaded everything," the rioter told Riley, who replied that the situation was "fine."
Riley deleted all of his Facebook messages from the rioters that same day. Soon after, the Capitol Police officer sent the rioter another message, saying that he could no longer support him after a friend showed a video of him "smoking weed and acting like a moron" in the Capitol building.
"I feel like a moron for believing you," Riley claimed. "I was so mad last night I deleted all your post, but i wanted to text you this morning and let you know that I will no longer be conversing with you."
The officer is said to have ceased communications with the rioter after this message.
News of Riley's indictment comes a month after the USCP announced that disciplinary action was recommended
for six officers for their respective roles in the January 6 storming of the US Capitol.