- The Washington Times
Friday, October 15, 2021

A U.S. Capitol Police officer was arrested on Friday and charged with helping to hide evidence of a rioter’s involvement with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Michael A. Riley is facing obstruction of justice charges for allegedly tipping off a rioter by telling him or her to delete Facebook posts showing the person inside the Capitol during the attack.

According to the indictment, Officer Riley sent dozens of messages to an unidentified person, discussing how the FBI was searching for rioters and suggesting the person remove any photos that could be incriminating.

Officer Riley is a 25-year veteran of the Capitol Police force who responded to a report of a pipe bomb on Jan. 6.

Officer Riley, 50, appeared virtually in federal court in Washington and was released with several conditions, including that he surrender any firearms and not travel outside the U.S. without permission from a judge. He was ordered to return to court later this month. 

According to court documents, he told the rioter that the scene was a “total s—-show.” “I’m glad you got out of there unscathed. We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad,” the officer wrote.

When the rioter said through messaging that he didn’t think he had done anything wrong, Officer Riley responded, according to court documents: “The only thing I can see is if you went into the building and they have proof you will be charged. You could always articulate that you had nowhere to go, but that’s for court.”

Later in January, after two had discussed their love of fishing, Officer Riley told the man to get off social media.

“They’re arresting dozens of people a day,” he wrote, according to the complaint. “Everyone that was in the building. Engaged in violent acts or destruction of property and they’re all being charged federally with felonies.”

Officer Riley‘s attorney told CNN on Friday evening that they plan to fight the charges.

In a statement, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said the department learned of the investigation against Mr. Riley several weeks ago and placed him on administrative leave when he was arrested Friday. Chief Manger called the indictment a “very serious allegation” and said the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility was opening an internal investigation. 

The Justice Department has charged more than 600 people in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, when pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol, battled police and tried to stop Congress’ certification of the election victory for President Biden.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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