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A 25-year veteran of the United States Capitol Police was charged on Friday with attempting to protect a man who was later charged with illegally entering the Capitol during the January 6 riot.

A grand jury indictment accused Constable Michael Angelo Riley of repeatedly telling the man to remove all social media that would provide evidence of entering the building that day.

“[I’]a capital police officer who agrees with your political position, ”Riley said in a direct message to Facebook, according to the indictment. “Take the part out of being in the building they’re investigating properly and everyone in the building will be charged.” I’m just looking !

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said Riley has been put on leave.

“Obstruction of justice is a very serious allegation,” Manger said. “The department was informed of this investigation several weeks ago. Upon his arrest, the officer was placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the case.”

Capitol Police will conduct their own administrative investigation, he said.

Court documents indicate that Riley, a member of the K-9 Police Unit, sent a Facebook friend request to a man described only as “Person 1” on January 1. Both belonged to Facebook groups devoted to fishing. The day after the riot, Riley sent a direct message to Person 1, who had posted photos and videos admitting his presence on Capitol Hill.

Law enforcement officials said Person 1 is a Virginia charter fishing boat operator Jacob Hiles. He pleaded guilty in early September to an illegal parade charge on Capitol Hill and will be sentenced in December. Court documents in his case indicated that he had “smoked an unknown substance” while in the building.

The two exchanged dozens of other direct messages on Facebook, according to the indictment. When Person 1 said they didn’t think they did anything wrong, Riley replied, “The only thing I can see is if you walked into the building and they got the proof that you will be charged. “

Several days later, Riley advised Person 1, “Get off social media,” the indictment said.

Court documents indicated that on January 20, the man told Riley that the FBI was curious about his conversations with the Capitol Police officer, and that Riley subsequently deleted all of his Facebook direct messages to and from the Person 1.

The next day, according to the indictment, Riley sent him a new message saying that a video showed the man from the Capitol “smoking weed and acting like a jerk. I have to say that I was shocked and stunned, since your story of being pushed into building it with no other choice now seems not only wrong but a big lie. I feel like a jerk for believing you. “

Riley received praise from the Capitol Police and a national law enforcement agency about 10 years ago for performing resuscitation on a fellow police officer suffering from a medical emergency.

Justice Department officials said Riley was arrested on Friday for obstructing justice. The names of his lawyers were not immediately available.

Frank Thorp V contributed.

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