Capitol Police Officer Charged With Helping a Guy in His Facebook Fishing Groups Hide Insurrection Evidence
Federal prosecutors have charged a Capitol Police officer with obstruction of justice for helping a rioter hide evidence that he was at the Capitol on the day of the insurrection.
The indictment claims that on January 7th, the day after the insurrection, Michael A. Riley contacted a man who participated in the riot and advised him to delete Facebook posts and messages that showed he was inside the Capitol that day. In the messages, Riley identified himself as a police officer who “agrees with your political stance,” the charging document says. The two didn’t know each other, but they were both members of the same fishing-related Facebook groups.
Riley, who has served on the Capitol Police force for over 25 years, was on duty the day of the attack not in the Capitol, but he allegedly sent dozens of messages to the rioter, whose name has not been revealed, recommending he get rid of any incriminating selfies or videos that would place him in the Capitol that day. Prosecutors said Riley also gave the person information about how the FBI was going to track down the identities of the rioters, and he later deleted all the messages he sent to him. What Riley didn’t know is that prosecutors can obtain deleted copies of photos and messages from social media companies, which is exactly what they did.
“Hey [Person 1], im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Riley allegedly wrote. “Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to [be] charged. Just looking out!”
“I get it… it was a total shit show!!! Riley allegedly said in another message. “Just wanted to give you a heads up… Im glad you got out of there unscathed. We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad.”
At one point, the indictment claims, Riley joked with the rioter that if he came back to D.C., he could stay with him and Riley would arrange a Capitol tour so he could see the building “legally.” They even exchanged phone numbers and called each other, prosecutors claimed.
After the rioter was arrested, he reached back out to Riley. “The fbi was very curious that I had been speaking to you” he said, warning Riley that the FBI would likely want to speak with him, as well. Prosecutors claim this is when Riley deleted all of the Facebook messages between himself and the rioter.
“Obstruction of Justice is a very serious allegation,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement, noting that Riley was recently working as a K-9 technician but has now been placed on administrative leave.
“The Department was notified about this investigation several weeks ago,” Manger added. “Upon his arrest, the officer was placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the case. The USCP’s Office of Professional Responsibility will then open an administrative investigation.”