A Capitol Police Officer faces two counts of obstruction for allegedly urging an accused Jan. 6 rioter to delete evidence that he’d entered the Capitol.
In a Facebook message to an unnamed alleged Capitol rioter on Jan. 7, Capitol Police Officer Michael Angelo Riley allegedly referred to video and picture selfies of the rioter inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Hey [Person 1], im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Riley allegedly wrote, according to the federal indictment against him. “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!”
Later, the Capitol Police officer allegedly sent a news article to “Person 1,” as the indictment refers to the rioter, stating that person 1 had been charged for his conduct on Jan. 6.
The alleged rioter called the article “fake news,” according to the indictment. The pair subsequently spoke for 23 minutes on the phone, the indictment said.
Politico first published the federal indictment against the Capitol Police officer. Riley was allowed to go home Friday after a brief court appearance, BuzzFeed News’ Zoe Tillman reported. He will be arraigned at a later hearing because he and his lawyer did not have time to go over the indictment by Friday, Tillman reported.
The cop and the alleged rioter apparently got to know each other over a shared love of fishing: Person 1 and Riley became Facebook friends on Jan. 1, and both were members of fishing-related Facebook groups, according to the indictment.
Riley allegedly exchanged dozens of messages with the alleged rioter, including three videos sent by the rioter showing himself inside and outside of the Capitol.
“I get it…it was a total shit show!!!” Riley allegedly responded. “Just want to give you a heads up . . . Im glad you got out of there unscathed We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad.”
Separately, Riley allegedly told the rioter: “The only thing I can see is if you went in the building and they have proof you will be charged. You could always articulate that you had no where to go, but thats for court.”
Riley, an officer in the Capitol Police K-9 unit, responded to reports of an explosive device near the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the indictment against him.
At one point, another unidentified person even sent Riley a video of Person 1 “smoking an unknown substance” and a hand-rolled cigarette inside the Capitol building, according to the indictment. “Yep I know…” Riley allegedly responded.
After Riley informed Person 1 of the charges against him, the pair kept up their friendly communications, according to the indictment.
“Next time you want to come to DC just call me, you can stay at my house on the shore for free and bring your daughter to the museums,” Riley allegedly wrote at one point. “If you want to see the capitol building, lets do it legally next time… i know a guy who can get you a tour…lol. Its behind you now…lesson learned! Just ask your attorney whats next.”
After the Person 1 informed Riley that the FBI was “very curious” that Person 1 had been speaking to Riley — and after Person 1 told Riley that the FBI had downloaded the contents of his phone — Riley allegedly deleted all of his Facebook messages with Person 1.
After that, Riley changed his tone with Person 1.
“Hey [Person 1], another mutual friend was talking about you last night,” he allegedly wrote. “I tried to defend you but then he showed me a video of you in the Capitol smoking weed and acting like a moron. I have to say, i was shocked and dumbfounded, since your story of getting pushed in the building with no other choice now seems not only false but is a complete lie.”
“I feel like a moron for believing you,” a changed Riley allegedly wrote. “I was so mad last night I deleted all your post, but I wanted to text you this morning and let you know that I will no longer be conversing with you.”
This post has been updated.