Washington, DC – The new acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) said “several” officers have been suspended pending investigations into actions they may have taking during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
“The Department also has been actively reviewing video and other open source materials of some USCP officers and officials that appear to be in violation of Department regulations and policies,” Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said, according to The Washington Post.
“Our Office of Professional Responsibility will investigate these behaviors for disciplinary action, up to, and including, termination,” Chief Pittman said in a statement released Monday night.
She declined to name the officers who have been suspended or to say what specifically they had been suspended for, The Washington Post reported.
But U.S. Representative Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told reporters during a virtual press conference that one of the Capitol Police officers who had been suspended was the officer who appeared in a viral video allowing a protester to take a selfie with him.
Ryan is a member of the congressional committee that has financial oversite over USCP, The Washington Post reported.
Cops are taking selfies with the terrorists. pic.twitter.com/EjkQ83h1p2
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 6, 2021
A photographer who can be seen in the background of the video said that the picture was taken inside a doorway near the northwest corner of the Capitol building.
Ryan said another officer who was suspended had been filmed wearing a Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat as he led a line of people in helmets and body armor out of the Capitol building, The Washington Post reported.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH):
— Abraham Jr. (@AbyTorresJr) January 11, 2021
A line of riot police was allowed to leave the capitol and make their way through the crowd. The officer in the lead is wearing a MAGA hat and no riot armor. pic.twitter.com/mOZAxEbKxS
— Stephen Ethan Horn (@StephenEHorn) January 12, 2021
Chief Pittman took command of USCP on Friday, a day after former USCP Chief Steven Sund announced his Jan. 16 resignation in the wake of the Capitol riot.
Ryan said that the new acting police chief immediately determined that several officers’ actions “qualified for immediate suspension,” The Washington Post reported.
“The main point is that Capitol Police are looking at everybody involved that could have potentially facilitated at a big level or small level in any way,” the congressman said.
A Capitol Police officer who was present during the riot told The Washington Post that the rank-and-file of the department felt like they have been betrayed by leadership, and said the sergeant at arms of the House and Senate were to blame for his department’s lack of preparation.
“People said openly they were going to storm the Capitol, and [the officials] acted like it was nothing,” the officer said.
He also told The Washington Post that he didn’t think the officer who had donned a MAGA hat to lead rioters out of the Capitol building should have been suspended because the officer had done that to get rioters to follow him so trapped officers behind them could be extracted.
“He used those two white guys, basically, used those Trump supporters to help get his people out of harm’s way,” the officer said. “If it wasn’t for them, those guys wouldn’t have gotten out… People can say what they want, but he put that hat on to try to save his guys.”
Ryan said that USCP is investigating between 10 and 15 officers in connection with their actions during the Capitol riot.
USCP is not the only agency investigating its officers in connection with the mayhem at the Capitol building, The Washington Post reported.
The U.S. Secret Service (USSS) said Monday it was investigating an officer posted comments on Facebook accusing lawmakers who confirmed President-Elect Joe Biden’s election of “committing treason on live tv.”
The officer also echoed President Donald Trump’s election fraud claims and posted a comment advocating action the morning after the Capitol riot, The Washington Post reported.
“Good morning patriots! Yesterday started out beautiful and as usual Antifa soured the mood and attacked police and an Air Force veteran was murdered….It’s OFFENSE time finally!!” her comment read in part.
USSS has refused to comment because it is a personnel matter but said they would investigate any allegations of members of the service not carrying out their duties, The Washington Post reported.
It’s not only DC-based law enforcement agencies who are investigating their officers’ involvement in the Capitol riot.
At least two Seattle police officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into whether or not they participated in the Capitol riot while visiting Washington, DC last week, the Seattle Times reported.
The Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) launched an internal investigation into the officers’ trip on Jan. 8, one day after a Seattle Police Department (SPD) employee passed along images showing the officers visiting the city on the same day the riot took place.
“A member of SPD notified their chain of command that photos on social media showed several two SPD officers apparently in Washington, D.C., the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol building,” Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said in a press release on Monday.
The chief noted that both officers were off duty and were not in uniform when they visited the nation’s capital city, and said those actions alone “violates no policy or law,” but he still suspended them despite not having any evidence that they had actually done anything wrong.
“The large number of people who forced their way into the Capitol, connected to the earlier political rally, presented too much of an unknown about whether any of our employees had potentially violated federal law,” Chief Diaz reasoned. “That is why I had to act.”
The chief said he asked the OPA to conduct an investigation into his officers “out of an abundance of caution” due to “the seriousness of what took place” at the Capitol, the Seattle Times reported.
He vowed to fire the officers in the event OPA “finds any evidence” they were “directly involved” in the rioting, and said any such findings will also be shared with federal officials.