Capitol cop resigns weeks after arrest on charges of cover-up of Jan. 6 riot Facebook messages
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Michael Riley poses for a picture outside of headquarters on D St., NE. Riley was selected Officer of the Month for February 2011 by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Michael Riley has resigned, weeks after his arrest for allegedly covering up communications with a man criminally charged with participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot by Trump supporters.
Riley, a 26-year veteran of the Capitol Police, is accused of deleting Facebook messages between him and the other man following that man’s arrest on Jan. 19.
He also is accused in U.S. District Court in Washington of urging the other man to delete information on that man’s Facebook page which showed him inside the Capitol during the riot.
NBC News, citing law enforcement officials, reported that the other man is Jacob Hiles, a Virginia fishing charter boat operator who pleaded guilty last month to illegally parading in the Capitol.
Riley, who most recently worked as a K-9 technician, had been on administrative leave since his Oct. 15 arrest on federal obstruction of justice charges.
He is free without cash bail on the charges, which carry a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison if he is convicted.
His resignation, which was first reported by Politico, was confirmed by his lawyers at the firm of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White, who said that Riley was a hero, not a criminal.
“As is the case with many of his colleagues, Officer Riley engaged in acts of heroism on January 6, 2021, responding to the attack on the U.S. Capitol,” the lawyers said in a statement.
Riley was not on duty inside the Capitol building that day but did respond to reports of an explosive device found near the complex that day, according to the indictment against him.
“With regard to the charges against him, the evidence will show that it is not a felony for one person to suggest to another that they take down ill-conceived Facebook posts,” Riley’s lawyers said.
The attorneys also noted that Riley had previously been named nationwide “Officer of the Month” by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and “Officer of the Year” by the Capitol Hill Executive Service Club & National Exchange Club.
A Capitol police spokesman declined to comment, saying “As is standard with most Departments, the USCP cannot discuss potential personnel issues.”
Five people died in connection with the riot, including a Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, who died on Jan. 7.
At least four other police officers who responded to the Capitol during the invasion, one from the Capitol police and three from the Washington, D.C. police department, have died by suicide in the months since the riot. More than 140 cops were injured during the invasion.
The riot outside the Capitol began as then-President Donald Trump hosted a rally at the Ellipse outside of the White House, where the Republican urged his supporters to march to Congress and oppose the ongoing confirmation of Joe Biden‘s election as president.
Rioters soon after breached the doors and windows of the Capitol complex, invading the Senate chamber, the Rotunda, the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and other areas.
More than 500 people have been criminally charged in connection with the riot.
Trump was impeached for inciting the riot. He was acquitted after a Senate trial that was held after he had left office.
Trump last month issued a statement condemning the prosecution of rioters.
Trump said, “Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election.”
Trump and his allies have falsely claimed since last November that he actually defeated Biden in the popular election and that the Democrat was awarded a victory only as a result of widespread ballot fraud.
No court has endorsed those fictional claims, which also were dismissed by Trump’s own attorney general William Barr.