Ex-USCP officer charged with obstructing January 6 probe testifies in his own defense
During nearly four hours of testimony, Riley told jurors he was “duped” by someone who he was trying to help and never thought he was destroying evidence when he deleted Facebook messages with the individual.
On January 7, 2021, Riley messaged Jacob Hiles, a Facebook friend who had posted about being at the Capitol during the riot and who Riley had never met in person.
“When I read his post, he said he was at the Capitol taking video that day” and was pushed inside the building, Riley testified, adding that he saw Hiles as “simply a demonstrator who got pushed into the building” and was afraid of being trampled.
Hiles pleaded guilty to unlawfully parading or demonstrating in the Capitol and was sentenced in December to two years of probation.
Riley testified that he had messaged Hiles that he should delete parts of a Facebook post mentioning that he went inside the Capitol.
“Hey Jacob, I’m a Capitol Police officer who agrees with your political stance,” Riley wrote to Hiles on January 7, 2021. “Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charges. Just looking out!”
Riley told jurors that weeks after sending that message, he deleted his messages with Hiles after Hiles said he talked with the FBI about their conversations.
“I deleted my messages because I was mad at myself and Jake,” Riley said, adding that he didn’t want the FBI to think he was close with Hiles or was involved in January 6.
During cross examination by federal prosecutors, Riley said he didn’t believe that deleting the Facebook messages amounted to deleting evidence because “it’s Facebook, this stuff doesn’t disappear,” adding that Hiles told him he had given his phone to the FBI.
Riley also confirmed on the stand that he instructed Hiles to “take down evidence where he said he entered the building,” adding later that he “didn’t actually know (Hiles) was in the building.”
He testified Monday that it wasn’t until later that he learned Hiles had not been pushed inside and had smoked a marijuana joint in the building.
A USCP officer for 25 years, Riley told the jury that members of his K-9 unit were the first to respond to a call on a suspicious package found at the Republican National Committee’s DC office on January 6, near the Capitol building. He acted as the primary officer on the command post while units worked to handle the pipe bomb that was found, Riley testified, and searched this area with his police dog.
Closing arguments for the trial are set to conclude Tuesday morning with the jury expected to begin deliberations later that day.