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Capitol Officer Gave Rioter a Legal Tip: Charges

Michael Riley faces obstruction of justice indictment
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2021 4:20 PM CDT
Capitol Officer Gave Rioter a Legal Tip: Charges
Security officers and lawmakers barricade the door to the House chamber as a violent mob tries to break in.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – "Take down the part about being in the building," a Capitol Police officer advised a rioter on Jan. 7 who'd posted online about taking part in the attack the day before, new charges say. The rioters who went inside the Capitol will be charged, Michael Riley reportedly told the man in a Facebook message, USA Today reports. "Just looking out!" Riley, 50, appeared Friday in DC federal court, accused of obstruction of justice. He's the first Capitol Police officer to be charged with helping the rioters, per CNN.

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The person who communicated with Riley was arrested in January but was not named in the indictment. The two didn't know each other but had been in Facebook groups related to fishing, the indictment says. Riley sent a friend request. "Hey, im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance," their conversation began, prosecutors say. "Im glad you got out of there unscathed We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad," Riley told him the same day. The man sent Riley videos showing him at the Capitol, some of him inside the building.

Around the middle of January, Riley told the man to stay off social media, the court filing says. "Theyre arresting dozens of people aday," the officer messaged. "Everyone that was in the building, engaged in violent acts, or destruction of property...and theyre all being charged federally with felonies." The two spoke on the phone, as well, and the man then let others know he was communicating with "capitol police" and tell them trespassing charges were imminent. Riley is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 26.

A 25-year veteran, Riley was working in the K-9 unit at the time of the riot; he was not on duty in the building when it was attacked. He's been placed on administrative leave, and the force is doing its own investigation of his conduct. Riley deleted his direct messages after the other man was arrested, per CNN, but not before writing that he was angered by seeing the rioter smoking marijuana in the Capitol on video and "acting like a moron." (Read more Capitol riot stories.)

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