Friday's obstruction of justice charge was filed against a long-serving member of the U.S. Capitol Police force for allegedly calling a Facebook user to warn them about taking down posts that admit their participation in the Jan. 6th riots.
WASHINGTON DC - JAN 06: On Wednesday, January 6, Riot police cleared the Capitol hallway.... [+] 2021 Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
The Key Facts
According to court documents filed Friday, Michael Angelo Riley (25-year veteran of the force) initiated contact with the unnamed Facebook user. He didn't know the person but was in several fishing-related Facebook groups and had just added him as a friend the day following the riot. According to court documents, Riley allegedly sent a direct message to the person to warn them to remove selfie-style photos, videos and comments he posted to Facebook confirming his presence at the U.S. Capitol. Riley claimed to be a Capitol Police officer and he agreed with your political stance. He then advised the person to remove the section about being inside the building, as they are investigating. Riley allegedly advised the Facebook user that everyone in the building would be charged. He also said that he was a Capitol Police officer who agrees with your political stance. Riley then allegedly continued to text the Facebook user until January 20. Riley claimed that he informed Riley that he had turned himself in to the FBI and that the FBI was very curious about his conversations. Riley, according to court filings, deleted all of his direct messages from and to the person. Riley is now facing two counts of obstruction. He is scheduled to appear in court on Friday afternoon.
Forbes was informed by the U.S. Capitol Police that Riley's allegations were very serious. They also stated that Riley has been placed on administrative leaves. This investigation was reported to the department several weeks ago. Chief Tom Manger stated that the officer was taken into administrative leave following his arrest. An administrative investigation will be opened by the USCPs Office of Professional Responsibility.
Riley is not the only active or retired law enforcement officer to be charged in connection with Jan. 6. However, he is the first member the Capitol Police, which is still reeling from that day's violence. One of the officers who was killed in the riot, Brian Sicknick from the Capitol Police, was also lost. A few days later, Howard Liebengood (51-year-old Capitol Police officer) committed suicide. Two other officers from the District of Columbia's police department who responded to the riot also committed suicide. As law enforcement and legislators continue to investigate the attack, officers are still dealing with injuries and trauma.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273–TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741 if you think about suicide.