Capitol Police investigating 35 officers after Jan. 6 insurrection

Six officers are suspended with pay

Thirty-five Capitol Police officers are being investigated for their actions on Jan. 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Thirty-five Capitol Police officers are being investigated for their actions on Jan. 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted February 19, 2021 at 11:55am

Thirty-five Capitol Police officers are being investigated by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility for their actions related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Six of those officers are suspended with pay, according to John Stolnis, a spokesperson for the department.

“The investigation into the January 6 attack remains under investigation. Our Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the actions of 35 police officers from that day. We currently have suspended six of those officers with pay,” Stolnis said in an emailed statement. “Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman has directed that any member of her department whose behavior is not in keeping with the Department’s Rules of Conduct will face appropriate discipline.”

The Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates officer misconduct, has in some instances shown a reluctance to hold its officers to account for egregious actions. A wide-ranging review is underway by the Capitol Police Office of Inspector General, as well as congressional inquiries into the force.

The disclosure comes days after Capitol Police leadership was dealt a significant blow in the form of seven "no confidence" votes from the union. Pittman, who assumed her role on Jan. 8, received a no confidence vote of 92 percent.

[Lawmakers, Capitol Police Board unmoved by union no confidence vote]

Other members of leadership received the following results: Assistant Chief Chad Thomas, 96 percent; acting Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher, 84 percent; Deputy Chief Timothy Bowen, 85 percent; Deputy Chief Jeffrey Pickett, 91 percent; and Deputy Chief Eric Waldow, 64 percent. Capt. Ben Smith was on separate ballot for officers at the Capitol Division and received a no confidence vote of 97 percent.

Gus Papathanasiou, the head of the union, said in a text message that the investigations into the officers “appear to be an attempt by USCP's upper management to divert the attention away from their significant leadership failures of January 6th.” He asked why none of the chiefs had been investigated or suspended.

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“Our Officers were uninformed, unprotected and unprepared as a result of the Department's top leaders failing the Officers and the Congressional Community on Jan 6th,” Papathanasiou said. “Our Officers along with MPD were outnumbered ‎and fought for their lives in order to protect themselves and Congress. This is just a witch hunt by the Department's top leaders and a continuation of the systemic failures that continue at the top.”

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died from injuries he sustained defending the Capitol from pro-Trump rioters. In addition, 125 Capitol Police officers were physically assaulted and over 70 Capitol Police officers were injured in the violent attack.

Pittman told congressional appropriators in January that her department failed to adequately act on intelligence before the Capitol was stormed by the mob. Capitol Police knew by Jan. 4 that militia and white supremacist groups would pose a security threat to Congress, Pittman said at the time.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Rules committees will meet Feb. 23 and has invited former Chief Steven Sund, former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger and former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving. All three resigned shortly after Jan. 6. D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee is also invited to testify.