Capitol Officer And January 6 Rioter's Star-Crossed Friendship Ends In Criminal Charges
Michael Angelo Riley and Jacob Hiles met in a Facebook group about fishing. Little did they know that they would somehow be bound not only by social media and a love for largemouth bass (we assume), but by criminal charges stemming from the January 6 insurrection.
Hiles — a boat captain who had recently made headlines for refusing to allow Democrats on board, was there that day, wearing a charming shirt reading "FUCK ANTIFA," ready to tear down congress in hopes of reinstalling Donald Trump as president. Riley was there too, but on the opposing side — a member of the Capitol Police. Though as he would later tell Hiles, his heart was with the rioters. Unfortunately for him, so were his typing fingers.
The officer, after noticing that his buddy had been posting a lot of highly incriminating pictures and videos of himself inside the Capitol building, sent him a message suggesting that he take them down, because of how it is illegal and all.
"Im [sic] a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance," Riley wrote in a Facebook message, according to the indictment. "Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged. Just looking out!"
In one of the dozens of messages that followed, Hiles assured the officer that there was actually nothing wrong with what he did. Riley told him, again "The only thing I can see is if you went in the building and they have proof, you will be charged. You could always articulate that you had no where to go, but thats for court."
Clearly, it was that kind of thinking of the legal system that got him selected as February 2011's Officer of the Year by the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Fund. Sadly for him, he was still apparently not aware that it is a crime for a police officer to tell someone to get rid of evidence of a crime. Or aware of how very, very stupid it would be to do so over a messaging app like Facebook, as if those messages aren't going to be subpoenaed if the person gets arrested.
When Hiles noticed he was being talked about on social media, he told Riley about it, who advised him to lay low for a while and keep off of social media. When an article came out saying Hiles was going to be charged, he sent it to Riley with a message reading "Fake News." Riley let him know that they were arresting dozens of people a day, which did not seem to phase Hiles much. But mostly they talked about fishing.
The two chatted fairly regularly, and Riley even offered Hiles a place to stay and a more official tour of the Capitol building the next time he was in D.C.
"Next time you want to come to DC just call me, you can stay at my house on the shore for and bring your daughter to the museums." he wrote, "If | you want to see the capitol building, let's do it legally next time... know a guy who can get you a tour...lol. Its behind you now...lesson leaned![sic] Just ask your attorney whats next."
On January 9th, just a few days after the riots, a friend of Riley's sent him a video that had been going around of Hiles smoking in the Capitol building, to which he replied "Yep, I know.
Alas, the blooming friendship was nipped in the bud when Hiles was arrested. Apparently, there is not a rule anywhere that stating if you keep saying that the crime you committed isn't illegal, no one can arrest you for it.
On January 20, Hiles sent Riley a message notifying him that the FBI would be talking to him soon. "The fbi was very curious that had been speaking to you if they havent [sic] already asked you about me they are gonna. - They took my phone and downloaded everything."
That same day Riley sent his own message.
Hey [Person 1], another mutual friend was talking about you last night. 1 tried to defend you but then he showed me a video of you in the Capitol smoking weed and acting like a moron. I have to say, i was shocked and dumbfounded, since your story of getting pushed in the building with no other choice now seems not only false but is a complete lc. I feel like a moron for believing you... I was so mad last night I deleted all your post, but i wanted to text you this morning and let you know thatI will no longer be conversing with you.
This would be 11 days after someone sent him the video and he said he already knew about it. Damn, it's like they pick anyone to be the February 2011 Officer of the Month these days.
Riley was been placed on administrative leave on Friday, after being arrested two charges related to obstruction of justice. He'll likely be found guilty, because there's not much he can argue here. Even if he doesn't go to prison, it's unlikely he's gonna keep his job as a Capitol police officer, so he tanked his own life to help out a random guy from Facebook and he didn't even get to go to the damn ball in the first place.
It would actually be kinda sad if we weren't talking about crazed Trumpists trying to stage a coup.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse