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Ex-Capitol Police officer charged with obstruction tells jury he is ’embarrassed’ over Facebook chat with Jan. 6 rioter

WASHINGTON — A former police officer charged with obstruction for telling a Jan. 6 rioter to take away a Fb submit about being within the U.S. Capitol testified Monday that he was “embarrassed” about having spoken to the person who he claims duped him about his degree of involvement within the assault.

Michael Riley, a now-former U.S. Capitol Police Officer who despatched messages to Jan. 6 rioter Jacob Hiles shortly after the rebellion, instructed jurors on Monday that he believed Hiles when he posted that he was compelled into the Capitol by the pro-Trump mob.

Riley testified that he regrets reaching out to Hiles “on daily basis” and that this has been “the worst 12 months” of his life. Riley was charged in October 2021, and resigned from the division that month, though the small print of his departure and present standing have been hid from jurors.

Underneath a plea deal with the federal government, Hiles pleaded responsible to a misdemeanor cost and was sentenced to 2 years of probation, together with 60 hours of group service and $500 restitution.

Riley, who fishes in his free time, befriended Hiles, a ship captain with a social media following, shortly earlier than the Capitol assault. After one other member of the Chesapeake fishing group tagged Riley in Hiles’ Fb submit about coming into the Capitol, Riley despatched Hiles a personal message telling him to take down the a part of his submit the place he admitted going into the constructing. “Simply looking!” Riley wrote in a message by which he stated he shared Hiles’ political opinions. Hiles instructed the FBI about Riley’s messages after he was arrested.

“I used to be embarrassed as a result of I had reached out to him within the first place and allowed myself to get ready like this,” Riley stated in courtroom on Monday. “I by no means meant for any of this to occur.”

He he later deleted his Fb messages with Hiles as a result of he was extraordinarily upset, he testified, insisting he wasn’t making an attempt to impede any investigation.

“I used to be mad at myself and I used to be mad at Jake,” Riley testified. “I used to be very upset that he was telling the FBI that we had been buddies.”

Jacob Hiles, indicated by the purple circle, on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Dept. of Justice

The messages counsel Riley was making an attempt to assist Hiles keep away from fees, however Riley insisted to the jury that he thought Hiles was going to be charged if he went into the constructing no matter his messages.

Assistant U.S. Lawyer Anne P. McNamara requested Riley if he had wished Hiles charged.

“If he went into the constructing, sure,” Riley stated. “It’s not that I didn’t need him to be charged,” however he simply didn’t affiliate him with somebody who damaged into the constructing or injured officers, Riley stated.

McNamara identified that Riley might have posted his message to Hiles publicly.

“Why’d you select to do it privately?” the prosecutor requested.

“Simply because,” Riley replied.

Prosecutors argue that Riley wasn’t duped by Hiles, and that crafted that narrative to keep away from a conviction. On cross examination, Riley was pressed on whether or not he was misled by Hiles.

“Has each single defendant instructed you the reality while you spoke to them?” McNamara requested.

“No,” Riley replied.

McNamara additionally highlighted messages that confirmed Riley referred to Hiles as a “moron” and a “r—–” and stated he was “not a shiny man.”

“This was the moron you had been duped by?” McNamara requested.

“It’s,” Riley responded.

Riley testified that he believed he has helped arrest greater than 1,000 demonstrators over the course of his 25-year profession as a Capitol Police officer, however had by no means been referred to as to testify earlier than a grand jury and could not have thought a grand jury can be taken with Hiles’ conduct.

He additionally talked up different elements of his profession, together with how he helped sweep the Capitol for bombs as a part of his position within the Ok-9 unit and helped reply to an officer who sustained a head harm on Jan. 6.

Riley testified that he was upset by what occurred on Jan. 6, and messages confirmed that he wished those that initially breached the Capitol, destroyed property and injured officers to be charged for these crimes.

“It was upsetting to me. I used to be upset to see our nation going by this. We had a variety of officers who had been damage,” Riley stated.

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