Michael A. Riley, the Capitol Police officer who faces charges for obstructing the investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection after deleting Facebook communications between him and a man who was charged with entering the Capitol, resigned from the department this week, his lawyer said in a statement.
Riley served more than 25 years on the force and was working as an officer on the K-9 unit during Jan. 6. He is the first Capitol Police officer charged in relation to the Capitol attack, where a mob supporting former President Donald Trump stormed the seat of American government to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. More than 140 police officers were injured in the riot.
“After a distinguished 26-year career during which he was named nationwide ‘Officer of the Month’ by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (2011) and ‘Officer of the Year’ by the Capitol Hill Executive Service Club & National Exchange Club (2010), Officer Michael A. Riley has resigned his position with the U.S. Capitol Police,” Riley’s lawyer, Christopher Macchiaroli, said in a statement.
Riley submitted his resignation on Wednesday afternoon around 5 p.m.
“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,” Macchiaroli added. “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.”
Riley and the man he communicated with on Facebook did not know each other, but were both avid fishermen and belonged to related Facebook groups. On Jan. 1, 2021 that man accepted a friend request from Riley. Riley was on duty outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and responded to reports of an explosive device near the complex. The next day, Riley contacted the man, who had posted videos and photographs of himself showing he had been among those inside the Capitol during the riot, according to the indictment.
Asked for comment, a Capitol Police spokesperson said Friday that it is “standard practice to not discuss potential personnel issues.” Riley had been suspended with pay by the department before he left.
Riley is charged with two counts of obstruction. The first is for allegedly telling the man to take down his Facebook posts relating to his conduct in the Capitol on Jan. 6 to make them unavailable for use in the federal investigation into the Capitol attack. The second is for allegedly deleting his direct Facebook communications with the man to “impair their use” in the same federal investigation.
Riley told the man he was a Capitol Police officer and “agrees with your political stance,” the indictment says. “Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to charged. Just looking out!” Riley wrote.
They continued to exchange messages and on Jan. 13 Riley advised the man to “get off of social media.”
On Jan. 19 the man was arrested for unlawfully entering the Capitol. The next day, Riley deleted his communications with the man. On Jan. 21, Riley sent him a final message saying he would no longer communicate with him.
Todd Ruger contributed to this report.