Capitol Police Officer Michael Riley was indicted Wednesday, accused of helping someone who participated in Jan. 6 riots hide evidence. He was expected to appear in federal court at some point Friday to face obstruction of justice charges.
According to the indictment, Riley sent dozens of messages to an unidentified person who participated in the riots. Riley allegedly identified himself as an officer who “agrees with your political stance”, and encouraged the rioter to remove incriminating photos and videos and telling them how the FBI was investigating to identify rioters.
“They’re arresting dozens of people a day,” he told the rioter, according to court documents. “Everyone that was in the building. Engaged in violent acts or destruction of property and they’re all being charged federally with felonies.”
It wasn’t clear if the indicted Capitol Police officer had an attorney who could comment on the charges against him. A call to the U.S. Capitol Police wasn’t immediately returned.
More than 600 people face charges in the Jan. 6 attack. In the days after the attack, some rioters flaunted their participation in social media posts that bragged about their ability to get inside the Capitol. However, many started realizing those posts could be used as evidence and began deleting them. An Associated Press review of court records has found at least 49 defendants are accused of trying to erase incriminating photos, videos, and texts from phones or social media accounts documenting their conduct.
Riley’s indictment is particularly notable because many of his colleagues were brutally beaten in the insurrection. Four officers testified about their experiences to a House committee back in July.
“I’m glad you got out of there unscathed. We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad,” Riley wrote to the rioter, according to the indictment. Riley was one of the officers who responded to a report of a pipe bomb on Jan. 6.
Riley is the first Capitol Police officer indicted in connection to the riots. However, several current and former officers with other law enforcement agencies have been arrested on riot-related charges. This includes two Virginia police officers and an off-duty Drug Enforcement Administration agent.