Washington, DC – A U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officer was arrested on obstruction of justice charges on Friday for telling somebody in a Facebook fishing group to take down social media posts about his participation in the Capitol riot.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the charges against USCP Officer Michael Riley, a 25-year-veteran of the police force, on Oct. 15, ABC News reported.
USCP Chief Thomas Manger said he had placed Officer Riley on administrative leave pending completion of the case.
Prosecutors said that Officer Riley was not on duty inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 when the building was breached by a mob, ABC News reported.
But afterwards, he messaged another member of a Facebook fishing group he belonged to after the other person posted selfies and videos showing them participating in the Capitol riot, according to the indictment.
“Hey [Person 1], im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Officer Riley allegedly wrote. “Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to [be] charged. Just looking out!”
The indictment said that Officer Riley exchanged dozens of additional messages the person – later identified by authorities as Jacob Hiles of Virginia, NBC News reported.
Charging documents said Hiles shared numerous pictures and videos of himself inside and outside the Capitol building during the riot with Officer Riley in private messages.
“I get it… it was a total s-t show!!!” Officer Riley messaged Hiles. “Just wanted to give you a heads up… Im glad you got out of there unscathed. We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad.”
Charging documents said the two continued to instant message each other for several days and that Officer Riley jokingly invited Hiles to come stay with him in DC and tour the Capitol “legally,” ABC News reported.
The indictment said that Hiles was arrested on Jan. 19 and warned Officer Riley in a message afterwards that “the fbi was very curious that I had been speaking to you” and would probably be in touch, prompting Officer Riley to delete all of his messages with him.
Officer Riley later sent a message to Hiles that said a mutual friend had given him a video of him “smoking weed and acting like a moron,” NBC News reported.
“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,” Officer Riley wrote, according to charging documents.
Hiles pleaded guilty in September to illegally parading in the Capitol and will be sentenced in December.
DOJ said Officer Riley was arrested on Friday on obstruction of justice charges, NBC News reported.
Chief Manger said Capitol Police would conduct its own internal investigation into the allegations.
“Obstruction of justice is a very serious allegation,” the chief said. “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 showed that Officer Riley is a member of the USCP K9 unit, NBC News reported.
He received multiple commendations in 2011 after he resuscitated a fellow police officer who suffered a medical emergency.