CNN

A former US Capitol police officer on trial for allegedly telling a January 6, 2021, rioter to delete evidence related to the attack also told the rioter he thought some of the “agitators” that day were Antifa, according to prosecutors.

A day after the attack, officer Michael Riley allegedly told the now convicted rioter Jacob Hiles in a private Facebook message to “(t)ake down the part” about being in the Capitol building after Hiles made a Facebook post stating “I very simply made my way through the building.”

“I’m a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Riley allegedly wrote before telling Hiles to delete his Facebook posts, adding that people who entered the Capitol that day were being investigated.

“Just looking out!” Riley wrote, according to court documents.

Riley faces two counts of obstruction to which he has pleaded not guilty. Hiles pleaded guilty to unlawfully protesting in the Capitol in September 2021. He was sentenced to 24 months of probation.

The day after the attack, Hiles allegedly sent a message to Riley that he thought January 6 “was all a set up.”

Riley told Hiles that the government and Capitol police didn’t assist with staging violence after Hiles alleged that Antifa received government assistance during the attack, but Riley also suggested they could have been agitators that day.

“I’m starting to think that some of the agitators were Antifa,” Riley said in a later message exchange with Hiles.

According to prosecutors, Riley accepted a Facebook friend request from Hiles on January 1, 2021, despite not knowing Hiles. The two, however, were part of the same fishing-related Facebook group before becoming friends on the platform, both prosecutors and the defense explained.

During opening statements Tuesday, assistant US attorney Mary Dohrmann told the jury that Riley “knew his fellow officers had been assaulted and attacked trying to protect the Capitol,” yet still worked to delete evidence related to the attack.

Prosecutors said that Riley responded to a report of an explosive device outside the Capitol complex, claiming he was aware of the violence occurring. The defense claimed, during opening arguments, that in addition to responding to the explosive, Riley was the first on the scene.

Riley’s attorney, Christopher Macchiaroli, also said that his client did not hide or destroy any evidence and eventually cut ties with Hiles.

“This is not a document that was hidden away and shredded so the grand jury couldn’t find it,” Macchiaroli said, adding later that in his last message to Hiles on January 21, 2021, Riley wrote “This is a goodbye,” and “I am not your buddy.”

Leave a Reply