Capitol Police officer pleads not guilty to obstruction charges over messages with rioter

Capitol Police officer pleads not guilty to obstruction charges over messages with rioter
© AP/Pool

A U.S. Capitol Police officer who was charged last week with two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly urging a Capitol rioter to remove incriminating posts following the Jan. 6 attack pleaded not guilty in a preliminary court appearance Tuesday.

Michael Angelo Riley was charged on Friday with the two counts, which carry a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.

At his first court appearance on Friday, Riley was released on his own recognizance and directed not to contact certain people that prosecutors say are involved in the case.

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Prosecutors say Riley, a 25-year veteran of the Capitol Police who serves on a K-9 unit, reached out on Facebook to someone who had posted images of the riot. Charging documents identify the individual only as "Person 1."

"Hey [Person 1], im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance," Riley allegedly wrote in a Facebook direct message. "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 was charged with one count for allegedly persuading Person 1 to delete their social media posts and another count for deleting all of his correspondence with Person 1.

A federal prosecutor said during Tuesday's hearing that Riley has not been offered a plea deal and did not indicate whether one would be forthcoming.