A US Capitol Police officer was arrested on Friday following his indictment on federal charges of obstruction of justice stemming from communications and actions in the aftermath of the insurrection on January 6.
Michael A. Riley, 50, was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on two counts of obstruction. The indictment was unsealed following his arrest Friday morning, and he made his initial court appearance Friday afternoon. He was released on personal recognizance pending a hearing on October 26.
According to the indictment, Riley has more than 25 years of experience and was at work on Jan. 6, 2021. Although he was not on duty inside the Capitol building itself during the attack, he was aware of what was happening. That day, he responded to reports of an explosive device near the Capitol complex.
From Jan. 7 through Jan. 20, the indictment alleges, Riley communicated via direct messages on social media with an individual identified as “Person 1,” who had posted photographs, videos and other commentary on social media admitting his presence and conduct inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
On Jan. 7, Riley directed “Person 1” to conceal evidence, writing, “im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance. Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to charged. Just looking out!”
Over the course of the next several days, Riley and the suspect allegedly sent dozens of messages back and forth and spoke on the phone at least once. In one message cited in the indictment, Riley instructed the suspect to, “get off of social media.”
On Jan. 19, according to the indictment, “Person 1” was arrested and interviewed by the FBI. He sent Riley messages on Jan. 20 regarding having turned himself in, and added, “The fbi was very curious that I had been speaking to you if they haven’t already asked you about me they are gonna … They took my phone and downloaded everything.” After Riley received that message, on Jan. 20, he deleted all of his messages to and from “Person 1,” The following day, Riley ceased all communications with the individual.
In a statement, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said, “Obstruction of Justice is a very serious allegation. 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. The USCP’s Office of Professional Responsibility will then open an administrative investigation.”