Police departments across the country are investigating whether their own officers took part in the riot inside the US Capitol on Wednesday, with several officers and one police chief already facing potential termination or suspension.
It comes as the FBI has launched its own investigation into the US Capitol Police Department to probe whether officers and other staffers inside the legislature may have aided demonstrators in gaining access to the building.
Police departments in California, New Hampshire, Washington State, and Texas are among those who have already began investigating their own officers based on tips, social media posts and other evidence, with more expected to follow.
Among the under fire officers is Thomas Goldie, a patrolman for Pennsylvania’s Zelienople Borough Police Department whose wife uploaded a picture of him attending the protest to Facebook.
In the since-deleted post, captioned ‘We made it!!’, Goldie is seen wearing a bobble hat that reads: ‘Trump MAGA 2020 f*** your feelings.’
Zelienople Police Chief Jim Miller has said that Goldie was not believed to have taken part in the skirmish inside the Capitol, but added the matter has been referred to the borough’s legal department.
Thomas Goldie (seen left), a patrolman for Pennsylvania’s Zelienople Borough Police Department, after his wife uploaded a picture of them attending the protest to Facebook. He is seen wearing a hat that reads: ‘Trump 2020
Zelienople Police Chief Jim Miller has said that Goldie (shown right) was not believed to have taken part in the skirmish inside the Capitol
An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while Trump supporters gather in front of the Capitol on Wednesday
Similarly, in San Antonio, Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County said he had referred Lt. Roxanne Mathai to the internal investigations department after she posted a video of herself on Facebook near the Capitol, wearing a red, white and blue face mask and wrapped in an American flag.
In her social media posts, Mathai, an eight-year veteran, reportedly wrote enthusiastically of the scenes unfolding outside the Capitol, but stated she would not be entering the building.
‘And we are going in…in the crowd at the stairs…not inside the capitol like the others. Not catching a case lol,’ she wrote in one post.
In relation to the timing of her video, Salazar said investigators would determine whether police had declared the gathering an unlawful assembly at the time she captured the footage.
‘If that is the case and she remained on scene and began filming and began making challenging statements, that means breaking the law,’ the sheriff said.
Plumes of tear gas were reportedly seen wafting in the background in the clip, the New York Times reported.
Lt. Roxanne Mathai is under investigation in San Antonio after she posted a video of herself on Facebook from near the Capitol, wearing a red, white and blue face mask and wrapped in an American flag
Mathai called the protest ‘one of the greatest days of my life’ in social media posts
Salazar said some of her Facebook photos also show the lieutenant in the middle of a crowd that may have assaulted law enforcement agents. If that is the case, the sheriff said Mathai will be investigated on administrative charges of conduct unbecoming and wants her to ‘never set foot in (BCSO) again.’
‘If she just stood by while first responders were assaulted, it would be more than just troubling, it would be downright infuriating,’ Salazar told My San Antonio. ‘It makes you mad … if someone that wears a uniform just stood there, watched and took pictures.’
Mathai, a 46-year-old jail lieutenant, has already been suspended from the force since October, according to Salazar, for a separate unspecified incident. The sheriff said Friday he has referred Mathai’s video to the FBI and the internal investigations department.
Her attorney, Hector Cortes, said he was confident she’d be cleared of all wrongdoing because she didn’t participate in any illegal activity at the rally.
‘All her posts show that the closest she got to the Capitol was that she was on the lawn at the time the chaos was happening inside, unbeknownst to her,’ Cortes told the Washington Post.
‘And we are going in…in the crowd at the stairs…not inside the capitol like the others. Not catching a case lol,’ she wrote in one post
In Troy, New Hampshire, Police Chief David Ellis has also been heckled with calls to resign after he attended the violent rally in DC.
His presence at the scene was unearthed following the publishing of an interview he conducted with New York Magazine as the chaos unfolded Wednesday.
During the interview, Ellis condemned the violent scenes, saying: ‘[Breaking in to the Capitol] was not going to solve a thing, and then to see the police get treated the way they were treated, it’s ridiculous.’
The police chief went on to add that the unfolding anarchy didn’t make him second guess his decision to attend, affirming: ‘There’s a lot of Trump supports that are awesome people. Like me.’
Ellis later told New Hampshire Public Radio he accepted the outcome of the November election but attended out of support for President Trump, whom he has backed since 2016.
Richard Thackston, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, has so far rebuffed calls for Ellis to resign or be fired.
In Troy, New Hampshire, Police Chief David Ellis has also been heckled with calls to resign after he attended the violent rally in DC
Thackston said Ellis was using his own time to make the trip, wasn’t in uniform and was not representing the town. He added that Ellis is currently in quarantine, with plans made ahead of time.
‘Dave knew he was going to be going there and coming back and needed to be in quarantine,’ Thackston told WMUR. ‘There’s no break in service or coverage, and it’s not a compensation or an additional expense to the town.’
In Seattle, Police Chief Adrian Diaz confirmed Wednesday that two officers have been placed on leave as their alleged roles in the riots are being assessed.
Diaz in a statement said the SPD was made aware that at least two officers were in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and confirmed they would be ‘immediately’ terminated if they were found to have been directly involved in the insurrection.
‘The Department fully supports all lawful expressions of First Amendment freedom of speech, but the violent mob and events that unfolded at the US Capitol were unlawful and resulted in the death of another police officer,’ Diaz said.
‘The OPA [Office of Police Accountability] will investigate whether any SPD policies were violated and if any potential illegal activities need to be referred for criminal investigation.’
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz confirmed two officers are under investigation after attending the Capitol riots Wednesday
The Seattle cops – who were off duty at the time – will be ‘immediately’ terminated if they were found to have been directly involved in the violence (stock image of Trump supporters at Wednesday’s rally)
In California, the Oakland Police Department has taken the stance that even showing support for the riots on social media could land officers in hot water if it breaches the department’s hate speech guidelines.
The department has opened a probe into current officers who liked or otherwise expressed support for posts of the riot from a retired Oakland officer.
In a Friday statement, the department said: ‘We will not allow any members to engage in or support this type of content and will root out this conduct anywhere within the Department.
‘The Department wants to reassure our community that a full breadth of our resources will go into this investigation to ensure that any members engaging in this behavior are held accountable.’
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo insisted the distinctions between acceptable and fireable behavior should be clear in most cases.
Most police departments prohibit officers from participating in political rallies while in uniform, but otherwise they’re able to express political views.
Engaging in violence or other behavior that violates department codes — even if it’s not a criminal offense — could lead to termination, including expressing support for discriminatory or violent acts, Acevedo told the Post.
‘If you’re openly liking and supporting comments [conveying] support for people who had nooses, or were screaming about finding the vice president of the United States and harming him and who were caught with molotov cocktails — you’ll likely receive severe sanctions,’ he said.
Where federal authorities are concerned, a TMZ report Saturday indicated that the FBI had launched an investigation into whether police and security staff at the US Capitol may have assisted protesters in gaining access to the building.
Various high ranking sources inside the UCPD told the outlet the FBI is puzzled by the ease in which the mob found its way into the building, and into the offices of the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The entrance to her office is reportedly difficult to find, though protesters reportedly took less than 10 minutes to locate it, before ransacking her desk and stealing her laptop.
It comes as the FBI has launched its own investigation into the US Capitol Police Department to probe whether officers and other staffers assisted protesters
Various high ranking sources inside the UCPD told the outlet the FBI is puzzled by the ease in which the mob found its way into the building, and into the offices of the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (above)
Shortly before 2pm, the rioters descended on Capitol Hill while lawmakers were inside certifying the vote. Over the next two hours, the violence escalated. Some broke into politicians’ offices, tauntingly sat at their desks and left threatening notes. One of the protesters was shot dead by cops (bottom right)
The FBI reportedly believe the mob may have been provided with a road map or guidance from someone – or a group – inside the building, helping them to find it so quickly.
Suspects reportedly include Capitol Police officers and many other staffers, including engineers, plumbers, and janitors.
Images that surfaced in the hours after the riot appearing to show police opening gates and removing barricades to allow the MAGA mob through are also raising eyebrows.
Officers in those instances could be charged with cowardice – or failure to take proper police action. The rioter, and anyone who aided them, may also be charged for threats and menacing towards Congress.
The FBI particularly wants to know if any off-duty Capitol Police officers were in the building, and if so, why, according to TMZ.