Two Seattle police officers caught on video standing by and smiling while Trump supporters scaled walls, climbed barricades, and broke windows during the Jan. 6 Capitol riots are now facing termination after an investigation found they lied about being near the riots.
The officers were two of six who had complaints about them submitted to Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability in the aftermath of the insurrection earlier this year. While the OPA determined that three of the officers were in attendance and never broke any laws, and couldn’t find evidence of any wrongdoing for another, the remaining two were caught on video standing by in a restricted area near the capitol building.
“That they were direct witnesses to people defiling the seat of American democracy—and did nothing— makes this all the more egregious,” OPA Director Andrew Myerberg said in a press release.
The OPA’s report says that there were several signs posted that signaled that the officers were standing in a prohibited part of the building. The OPA was able to pin the two unidentified officers to the location using videos recorded by other attendees of the Trump-inspired insurrection.
The officers “knew or should have known that they were criminally trespassing,” the report says. “Not only were there signs posted in that area, but there were ongoing violent acts, the use of less-lethal tools by law enforcement officers, and multiple other signs that being in that location was inappropriate and impermissible.”
While the two officers never made their way inside of the Capitol building, the report says it “does not diminish” their conclusion that the officers broke the law.
“While they smiled and looked at the Capitol Building, as captured by the video stills, rioters defiled the seat of American democracy and assaulted numerous fellow officers,” the report said.
The complaints were filed to the OPA the day after the riots in D.C. after one of the officers posted a photo of herself, her colleague and a former officer at the nation’s capital on Facebook. Four other officers would later come forward and admit that they attended the rally shortly afterward, but said they only attended to see President Trump’s speech. They said that afterward, they returned to their hotels, and did not join others in breaking into the building where the 2020 presidential election was being certified by members of Congress.
However, video evidence, as well as emails, cellphone data, interviews with local restaurant employees and other members of D.C. law enforcement compiled and analyzed by the OPA, proved that two of these officers were lying about their whereabouts.
The names of the two officers have been withheld from the public thanks to the contractual rights provided by their employment. The two officers have also filed lawsuits that sought to keep their names withheld from public records requests, according to the LA Times. That case is being appealed to the Washington Supreme Court, the outlet reports.
Both officers have been placed on administrative leave, according to the department. Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said that he will determine what kind of disciplinary action the Department will take against these two officers in the next 30 days. Termination is among the possible outcomes.
But don’t expect a decision to come anytime soon.
“While we hear a call for swifter action, the consequences—as we have seen around the country—of undercutting due process serve only to undermine accountability,” the department said in its statement about the OPD’s investigation, linking out to two incidents in Atlanta where officers who were prematurely fired were reinstated after further investigation exonerated them.