Capitol Police officer charged with obstruction in January 6 Capitol riot
A Capitol Police officer has been arrested and charged with obstructing the investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the building he had sworn an oath to protect.
According to a grand jury indictment unsealed Friday, Michael Angelo Riley, a 25-year veteran of the force and K-9 unit officer, initiated contact with an individual he didn’t know on Facebook on January 7, a day after the assault on the Capitol.
The unnamed Facebook user had allegedly posted photos, videos, and “other commentary” on Facebook that revealed he had been present inside the Capitol during the insurrection.
“Hey,” Riley allegedly wrote to the individual, “I’m 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. Just looking out!”
Riley and the unidentified rioter then exchanged messages over multiple days, court documents reveal, including exchanges about what charges prosecutors might bring against this person and and others accused of taking part in the melee.
“They’re arresting dozens of people a day,” Riley told his Facebook friend in one exchange, “Its behind you now…lesson learned! Just ask your attorney whats next,” he recommended in another.
Riley, who wasn’t among the officers inside the Capitol during the attack, also had a 23-minute-long phone conversation with the rioter.
On July 21, 2021, Riley is said to have written to the unidentified individual, attempting to distance himself from the rioter’s alleged actions after he had purportedly discussed the case with a friend.
“I tried to defend you,” Riley wrote, “but then he showed me a video of you in the Capitol smoking weed and acting like a moron. I have to say, i was shocked and dumfounded…I will no longer be conversing with you.”
The indicted officer then deleted his messages with the unidentified rioter and stopped all communications.
“Obstruction of Justice is a very serious allegation. 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,” said Chief Tom Manger, U.S. Capitol Police, “The USCP’s Office of Professional Responsibility will then open an administrative investigation.”
Riley appeared in court Friday afternoon with his attorney and has been released under certain conditions pending trial.