A U.S. Capitol Police officer charged with obstruction of justice in the Jan. 6 riot investigation has resigned from the force, his attorneys said Friday.
The officer, a 25 year veteran named Michael Angelo Riley, was placed on administrative leave earlier this month after he was arrested for allegedly encouraging a pro-Trump rioter who’d stormed the Capitol to delete incriminating Facebook posts.
Riley has pleaded not guilty to the obstruction charges.
“As is the case with many of his colleagues, Officer Riley engaged in acts of heroism on January 6, 2021, responding to the attack on the U.S. Capitol,” a statement from his legal team at the law firm Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White. “With regard to the charges against him, the evidence will show that it is not a felony for one person to suggest to another that they take down ill-conceived Facebook posts.”
A Capitol Police spokesman declined to comment on the resignation, which was first reported by Politico. “As is standard with most departments, the USCP cannot discuss potential personnel issues,” the spokesman said.
Riley, who was part of a K-9 unit, was not in the Capitol during the attack because he’d responded to a report of an explosive device nearby, according to the indictment.
He first reached out to the alleged rioter on Jan. 7, court papers say. The two did not know each other personally but had become Facebook friends because of a mutual interest in fishing.
“[I’]m a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Riley wrote the man in a Facebook direct message, according to the indictment. “Take down the part about being in the building they are correctly investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged. Just looking out!”
The two exchanged dozens more Facebook direct messages, the indictment said, with Riley at one point offering to let the man, identified in court filings as person 1, stay at his home the next time he came to Washington, D.C.
“If you want to see the capitol building, let’s do it legally next time,” Riley wrote in one message. “I know a guy who can get you a tour … lol.”