- A jury found former Capitol police officer Michael Riley accountable Friday of obstructing the investigation into the January 6, 2021, assault.
- The jury could not attain a unanimous verdict on the charge related to his urging the rioter to remove posts.
A jury found former Capitol police officer Michael Riley accountable Friday of obstructing the investigation into the January 6, 2021, assault on the developing he was as quickly as sworn to protect, handing the Justice Department a victory in a distinctive and high-profile prosecution stemming from the revolt.
The verdict bought right here a 12 months after Riley’s indictment on bills he urged a Capitol rioter to delete social media posts placing him inside the pro-Trump mob that besieged the Capitol to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election outcomes. In their case in the direction of Riley, prosecutors moreover alleged that he later deleted his messages with the n0w-convicted Capitol rioter, Jacob Hiles, to destroy proof of his obstruction.
The jury found Riley accountable on the obstruction charge linked to the deletion of Facebook messages with Hiles nonetheless could not attain a unanimous verdict on the charge related to his urging the rioter to remove posts.
A 25-year veteran of the police drive, Riley responded on January 6 to one amongst the pipe bombs found near the Capitol. He resigned from the Capitol police following his October 2021 indictment on two obstruction bills.
During the weeklong trial, his safety lawyer argued that Riley had been “duped” into believing that Hiles had solely gone to the Capitol to doc the events of January 6. In a harmful switch that has backfired in the direction of completely different January 6 defendants, Riley took the stand to testify in his private safety.
Riley knowledgeable jurors that he was “embarrassed” about his communications with Hiles, who he claimed had misled him about the extent of his involvement in the January 6 assault on the Capitol.
But, in her closing argument Monday, federal prosecutor Anne McNamara dismissed Riley’s rationalization as little better than a “cover story.”
“This defendant was not duped,” McNamara talked about.
“Ladies and gentlemen, use your logic and common sense,” she added. “That’s absurd.”
During the weeklong trial, prosecutors launched a variety of messages Riley exchanged with Hiles beginning on January 7. 2021 — the day after the Capitol assault. In the first message, Riley launched himself as a Capitol police officer and warned Hiles to delete social media posts placing him inside the Capitol on January 6.
“Hey Jake, im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Riley wrote to Hiles.
“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,” Riley added. “Just looking out!”
Hiles did not delete his social posts and obtained credit score rating for preserving that proof. Under a plea deal with prosecutors, Hiles admitted to a misdemeanor charge and was later sentenced to 2 years of probation.
In her closing argument, McNamara harassed that it didn’t matter that Hiles certainly not acted on Riley’s suggestion to delete the Facebook posts. “The only thing that matters,” she talked about, is that Riley tried to steer Hiles to remove these posts.
“He did this in private because he didn’t want anyone to know,” she talked about.
Within weeks of placing up the Facebook correspondence, Riley realized that Hiles had been charged in reference to January 6 and questioned by the FBI. Hiles notified Riley in a single message that the FBI was “very curious that I had been speaking to you.”
Upon realizing he was “smack in the middle of the crosshairs” of the January 6 investigation, Riley then created a “cover story,” McNamara talked about, and deleted his personal messages with Hiles.
“He acted immediately to avoid being caught,” she talked about.
Riley deleted the first message he despatched Hiles, whereby the then-Capitol police officer talked about he was “just looking out.”
He moreover deleted one different message despatched in the weeks after the Capitol assault: “Federal court is no joke.”