A veteran Capitol Police officer has been charged by federal authorities with two counts of obstruction after he allegedly warned a Capitol rioter to remove Facebook posts that showed him inside the building.
Officer Michael Angelo Riley was on K-9 duty on Jan. 6 and even responded to reports of an explosive device near the Capitol complex, according to authorities. The next day, Riley reached out to a Facebook friend ― one he knew because they were both “avid fishermen and members of fishing-related Facebook groups” ― and warned him to take down posts showing him inside the Capitol.
“[I’m] 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 [get] charged,” Riley wrote. “Just looking out!”
While the rioter is only listed as “Person-1” in Riley’s charging papers, he is believed to be Jacob Hiles. Hiles was arrested on the same date as “Person-1” and like “Person-1” allegedly smoked weed inside the Capitol and has an interest in fishing. (In fact, he was a fishing charter captain in Virginia Beach, Virginia.) Hiles pleaded guilty last month, and his sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 6.
When the Capitol rioter told Riley he didn’t think he did anything wrong, Riley responded that people who went in the building would be charged. Later, on Jan. 13, Riley advised the rioter to “get off of social media.” Later, he told him that cops were “arresting dozens of people a day” and then set up a call with the rioter.
“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 wrote on Facebook Messenger. “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.”
The rioter turned himself into the FBI on Jan. 19, and then reached out to Riley again.
“The fbi was very curious that [I] had been speaking to you if they havent already asked you about me they are gonna,” the rioter wrote. “They took my phone and downloaded everything.”
Riley responded “thats fine” and then deleted his messages to the rioter before saying that he felt “like a moron” for believing the rioter’s story about being forced into the building.
“I tried to defend you but then [another Facebook user] showed me a video of you in the Capitol smoking weed and acting like a moron,” Riley wrote. “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 ... I wanted to text you this morning and let you know that I will no longer be conversing with you.”
The FBI has made nearly 650 arrests in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Online sleuths who are investigating the riot believe that about 2,500 people engaged in conduct that could result in criminal charges.
Last week, the FBI arrested James Mault, a military veteran who lost his civilian job after Jan. 6 because of his actions at the Capitol, but was allowed to reenlist in the U.S. Army in June. Images show Mault spraying police officers with a chemical weapon as they tried to protect the Capitol from a violent mob that believed the former president’s lies about a stolen election.