Capitol Police Officer Faces Obstruction Charges For Facebook Activity

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The US Capitol riot is at the center of efforts to impeach and then convict Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection
The US Capitol riot is at the center of efforts to impeach and then convict Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection AFP / ALEX EDELMAN

Capitol Police Officer Michael A. Riley, an officer of over 25 years, was indicted on obstruction charges in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection for comments he made on social media.

According to the indictment, on Jan. 7, Riley started contact with someone he met on Facebook. The indictment refers to the individual as Person 1.

Riley informed Person 1 to remove “‘selfie’-style photographs, videos, and other commentary admitting to his presence and conduct inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. "Riley responded to reports of an explosive device near the Capitol but was not on duty inside the Capitol during the insurrection," the indictment read.

The two individuals had not previously met or had any contact before Jan. 1, when Riley accepted a friend request from Person 1 because they were both in a fishing-related Facebook group. The two exchanged dozens of Facebook messages, including three videos shared with Riley showing Person 1 inside and outside the U.S. Capitol. Riley contacted this individual from Jan. 7 to 21, included one 23-minute phone call.

All communication ceased after Riley sent a message to Person 1 saying that he previously believed that he had been pushed into the Capitol building. However, more evidence Riley received from a mutual friend clearly suggested that Person 1 was there willingly. This evidence is a video showing Person 1 smoking weed in the Capitol, and according to a message Riley sent, “acting like a moron”.


US Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger speaks to the press near the US Capitol as authorities investigate a bomb threat
US Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger speaks to the press near the US Capitol as authorities investigate a bomb threat
Photo: AFP / Nicholas Kamm

"The department learned of the investigation against Riley several weeks ago and placed him on administrative leave when he was arrested Friday,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement.

Manger said the indictment was a “very serious allegation." He also said the Capitol Police Officer of Professional Responsibility would open an internal investigation.

Officer Riley faces two counts of obstruction.

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