Two Seattle police officers trespassed near the U.S. Capitol after attending the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in D.C., according to a disciplinary investigation by Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability, which also found that four other Seattle officers attended the rally but did not violate any departmental policies.
The office released the results of its investigation Thursday, and said that a discipline committee had recommended the two officers be fired for their conduct. The Office of Police Accountability said in a statement that any discipline must be determined by Seattle’s chief of police, and additional proceedings still need to take place before a decision is imposed.
None of the officers have been criminally charged in connection with the events of January 6, but at least a dozen other current or former police officers from around the country are accused of committing crimes during the mob attack.
The Police Accountability office wrote of the two officers, “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. That they, as SPD [Seattle Police Department] officers, were direct witnesses to the acts that were going on around them, including the scaling of the Capitol Building walls, but did and said nothing, compounds this.”
The investigation did not find that any of the six officers — none of whom were named in the report — went inside the U.S. Capitol building during the siege, and said that three of the officers simply attended then-President Donald Trump’s rally and did not break any laws. The investigation stressed that their conduct was protected by the First Amendment.
The office began its investigation after one of the officers posted a photo of herself on Facebook that showed she was at the January 6 demonstration along with another current Seattle Police officer and a former officer. The four other current officers later self-reported that they had also attended the demonstration.
The Police Accountability office asked officers to provide documents and messages in order to confirm their actions on January 6, but one officer refused to turn over the records, and has been named in a separate case for insubordination and failure to cooperate with the investigation.
The Office of Police Accountability also worked with the FBI, which provided a video that it says showed the two officers standing beside the U.S. Capitol building while demonstrators climbed the nearby scaffolding.
According to the report, the person filming the video can be seen turning to the two officers and saying, “Well f***, doing it?” The person filming then turns the camera away from the officers, and a male voice says off camera, “Thinking about it.”
The Office of Police Accountability wrote that it was “unbelievable” that the officers did not know they were trespassing.
“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,” the report said. “Here, they were directly next to the Capitol Building during the same time as the ongoing insurrection.”
Both of the officers seen on camera near the Capitol building told the Police Accountability office they did not realize they had been standing in a restricted area until reading news articles about the event.
One of the officers said he decided to go to the Capitol that day because Mr. Trump had asked people to be there and to “walk up and be peaceful,” and he felt the investigation into his attendance was discriminatory toward him for his political ideology.
The other officer filmed standing near the building said that she went to D.C. because she wanted to listen to speakers at the rally, but she did not believe she was attending a protest.
The other four officers, who were not found to have violated any departmental policy, each told the office they were in D.C. primarily to sightsee or visit friends, and all briefly attended the rally where they knew Mr. Trump would be speaking.
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