A federal jury convicted a former Capitol Police officer Friday on one of two charges that he interfered with the grand jury investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol related to the deletion of Facebook information.
The jury in Washington returned a guilty verdict on a felony charge against Michael A. Riley, a 25-year veteran of the force. Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia declared a mistrial on another, similar felony count after the jury deliberated for more than three days.
Prosecutors argued on the first count that Riley advised Capitol rioter Jacob Hiles to take down a public Facebook post where Hiles said he had entered the Capitol during the attack. They argued on the second count that Riley deleted hundreds of messages between the two once Hiles said he had told the FBI about their communications.
The jury deadlocked on the first count and found Riley guilty of the second count. Jackson is still considering a motion for judgment of acquittal, which Riley’s attorneys may submit a filing on next week.
The conviction carries a potential prison sentence. Jackson allowed Riley to remain out of custody on bail and did not immediately set a date for sentencing. Riley was not present in the courtroom for the verdict because of a medical procedure. His attorney declined to comment after the verdict.
Riley was the first Capitol Police officer to be charged in connection with the sprawling federal probe after the attack. Prosecutors did not state whether they would seek a second trial on the first count.
A federal prosecutor, Anne McNamara, argued to the jury that Riley’s long experience as a police officer meant he knew the actions he took were wrong, including deleting his messages.
“Timing is so damning here. He acted after he knew the same investigation focused on Hiles was now focused on him,” McNamara said during closing arguments.
More than 880 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the Capitol, in what is one of the largest federal investigations in history, the Justice Department said this week.
A mob inspired by then-President Donald Trump broke into the building and attacked and injured multiple officers, ultimately interrupting Congress’ counting of the Electoral College votes from the presidential race.