Two members of the Seattle Police Department who were in Washington, D.C. when supporters of President Donald Trump laid siege to the U.S. Capitol Building have been placed on administrative while investigators look into whether they participated in any of the rampant unlawful activity that took place.
SPD Chief Adrian Diaz said that his officers are free to express their political beliefs, but that any officer who engaged in any unlawful or riotous conduct at the Capitol would be swiftly removed from the force.
“The Department fully supports all lawful expressions of First Amendment freedom of speech, but the violent mob and events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol were unlawful and resulted in the death of another police officer. The incident has been forwarded to the Office of Police Accountability [OPA] for full review of any SPD employee activities at the U.S. Capitol,” Diaz said in a statement. “The OPA will investigate whether any SPD policies were violated and if any potential illegal activities need to be referred for criminal investigation. If any SPD officers were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, I will immediately terminate them. While OPA investigates, these officers have been placed on administrative leave.”
In an interview with Seattle Times, OPA’s civilian director Andrew Myerberg said the investigation into the two officers was opened Friday morning after his office was notified Thursday evening.
“We learned about this in an email last night,” Myerberg said in a phone interview with the Times. “There’s a picture that circulated on social media of the two officers at the protest rally. So, yes, we believe they were there, but we don’t know all the facts yet, so that’s why we’re doing the investigation.”
Myerberg further told the Times that the investigation will focus on “what role the officers played” in the rally-turned-alleged-insurrection, or if simply being present at the rally was a violation of departmental policy.
“I just don’t know that yet. I think it really depends on what they did and what their role was in those events,” he said.
The department did not release any specific details about the two officers, but did say both were off duty when they traveled to D.C.
Not long after President Trump wrapped up a lie-riddled speech Wednesday in which he repeatedly and falsely claimed that the 2020 election was stolen from him, hundreds of his supporters Marched to the capitol where they crossed police barriers and stormed the building with members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence still inside. The unprecedented armed insurrection—which took place as lawmakers were formally counting Electoral College votes—led to immediate and extraordinary backlash against the president and his acolytes in Congress, with the legal community categorizing the day’s events as “sedition” and calling for Trump to be impeached, removed from office, and in some cases prosecuted just two weeks before his tenure ends.
Videos from the scene indicated that some of those who stormed the building were chanting that Pence should be hanged.
“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical Democrats,” Trump told the crowd gathered for the “Save America Rally” outside the White House. “We will never give up. We will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s death involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”
During his near hour-long speech, the president also directed the attendees to march to the Capitol to “give our Republicans the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
The mayhem resulted in the deaths of five people, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer.
[image via ProPublica/YouTube screengrab]
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