Capitol Police officer indicted for aiding attempted Trump coup d’état terrorist

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges after prosecutors say he helped to hide evidence of a terrorist’s involvement in January’s attempted coup d’état.

Capitol Police Officer Michael Angelo Riley was charged Friday with trying to protect someone later accused of illegally entering the Capitol during the riot.

Riley, who was selected Officer of the Month for February 2011 by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, repeatedly told the man to delete all social media that would provide proof of entering the building that day.

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.

“Obstruction of justice is a very serious allegation,” said Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, who added that Riley was placed on leave.. “The department was notified about this investigation several weeks ago. Upon his arrest, the officer was placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the case.”

Court documents said Riley, a member of the police K-9 unit, sent a Facebook friend request to a man described only as “Person 1” on Jan. 1.

Both were in Facebook groups devoted to fishing. The day after the riot, Riley sent a direct message to Person 1, who had posted photos and videos admitting his presence in the Capitol.

Law enforcement officials said Person 1 is a Virginia fishing charter boat operator, Jacob Hiles.

Jacob Hiles helped federal officials catch a ‘big fish’ when his social media posts and private text messages revealed that Capitol Police Officer Michael Angelo Riley engaged in obstruction of justice by warning the terrorist to hide evidence of his involvement in January’s attempted coup d’état.

Hiles pleaded guilty in early September to a charge of illegally parading in the Capitol and will be sentenced in December.

Court documents in his case said he “smoked an unknown substance” during his time in the building.

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.

The two exchanged dozens more Facebook direct messages, the indictment said. When Person 1 said he did not think he had done anything wrong, Riley responded, “The only thing I can see is if you went in the building and they have proof you will be charged.”

Several days later, Riley advised Person 1, “Get off of social media,” the indictment said.

Court documents said that on Jan. 20, the man told Riley that the FBI was curious about his conversations with the Capitol police officer, and that Riley then deleted all his Facebook direct messages to and from Person 1.

The next day, the indictment said, Riley sent him a new message saying a video showed the man in the Capitol “smoking weed and acting like a moron. I have to say i was shocked and dumfounded, since your story of getting pushed in the building with no other choice now seems not only false but a big lie. I feel like a moron for believing you.”

Riley received commendations from the Capitol Police and a national law enforcement organization in about 10 years ago for performing resuscitative measures on a fellow police officer suffering a medical emergency.

Justice Department officials said Riley was arrested Friday on obstruction of justice charges.

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