A veteran U.S. Capitol Police officer has been charged with obstruction for allegedly directing a man who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection to remove evidence showing the rioter’s presence inside the U.S. Capitol.
Michael Riley, 50, who was assigned to the department’s K-9 unit at the time of the siege, allegedly told an acquaintance on Jan. 7 to take down photographs and other commentary indicating the person’s participation in the Capitol breach.
“Hey, im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” the officer allegedly wrote in a Facebook message. “Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged. Just looking out!”
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The message, according to court documents, was one of dozens the officer and the unnamed acquaintance, described in court documents as “Person 1,” exchanged the day after the attack.
Riley, who has nearly 25 years on the force, made his first appearance Friday in a D.C. federal court where he was released pending an Oct. 26 arraignment.
“Obstruction of Justice is a very serious allegation,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said. “The Department was notified about this investigation several weeks ago. Upon his arrest, the officer was placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the case.”
Manger said the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility will also review the officer’s conduct.
Officer Riley and the unidentified rioter, according to court papers, did not know each other before the person accepted Riley’s friend request based on heir mutual interest in fishing.
Among their extended Jan. 7 Facebook exchanges, the person sent the officer three videos showing him inside and outside the Capitol building.
“I get it … it was a total (expletive) show,” the officer allegedly wrote. “Just wanted to give you a heads up. Im glad you got out of there unscathed. We had over 50 officers hurt some pretty bad.”
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When the person asked if the officer believed he had done anything wrong, Riley allegedly wrote: “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.”
After Riley’s associate was arrested Jan. 19, according to court documents, he sent the officer messages, alerting him that he had turned himself in.
“The fbi was very curious that I had been speaking to you if they haven’t already asked you about me they are gonna,” the contact said. “They took my phone and downloaded everything.”
After Riley received the message, he deleted all of his messages related to the contact and on Jan. 21 ceased all communications with person.