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A United States Capitol Police officer has been indicted on charges related to helping someone conceal evidence in relation to the January 6 Capitol incursion.
Officer Michael A. Riley has been accused by prosecutors of contacting someone whose post he read on Facebook and tipping them off, The Associated Press reported.
The officer, who has been on the force for around 25 years, noticed the post with the photo of the person inside that Capitol on January 6 and advised them to remove it from Facebook.
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.
Riley, who responded to a report of a pipe bomb on Jan. 6 and has been a Capitol Police officer for about 25 years, had sent the person a message telling them that he was an officer with the police force who “agrees with your political stance,” an indictment against him says.
The indictment spells out how Riley sent dozens of messages to the unidentified person, encouraging them to remove incriminating photos and videos and telling them how the FBI was investigating to identify rioters.
Riley’s attorney did not immediately respond to a reporter’s message seeking comment.
The day after the January 6 incident at the Capitol Riley allegedly messaged the man and advised them to hide the evidence of their involvement.
“Hey [Person 1] I’m a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” he allegedly said. “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!”
“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,” he said in another message.
The two exchanged dozens of messages after that and, in one, the person said that their presence at the Capitol was drawing attention online, to which Riley allegedly responded, “Get off of social media.”
“They’re arresting dozens of people a day,” he said. “Everyone that was in the building. Engaged in violent acts or destruction of property and they’re all being charged federally with felonies.”
When the person asked Riley if he had been charged, Riley said “Call me,” and the pair talked for 23 minutes, the indictment alleged.
Within hours of that call the person contacted others and informed them that he had spoken to “Capitol Police” and that he would likely face trespassing charges.
On January 19 the man was arrested and interviewed by the FBI and on January 20 he messaged Riley again.
“The FBI was very curious that I had been speaking to you. If they haven’t already asked you about me they are gonna. They took my phone and downloaded everything,” he said.
“That’s fine,” the officer said, and then deleted his messages with the man.
On January 21 Riley messaged the man again and this time informed him that he would no longer be talking to him.
“Hey [Person 1], another mutual friend was talking about you last night. I tried to defend you but then he showed me a video of you smoking weed and acting like a moron. I have to say I was shocked and dumbfounded …,” he said, the indictment alleged.
“I was so mad last night I deleted all your post, but I wanted to text you this morning and tell you that I will no longer be conversing with you,” he said.