The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) confirmed on Sept. 11 that it has recommended “disciplinary action” for six officers over their handling of protesters on U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, following internal investigations.
The department’s first official update on the investigations comes eight months after the breach of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, which posed a security threat to members of Congress.
The USCP, which is tasked with protecting the Capitol, said in a statement that the recommendations by its Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) were for officers found to be in violation of its code of conduct. The OPR has been investigating a total of 38 cases related to the events of Jan. 6.
Three officers were identified for “conduct unbecoming,” one for failure to comply with directives, one for improper remark, and one for improper dissemination of information, it said.
The wrongdoings aren’t criminal in nature, the department said, adding that a U.S. attorney’s office review concurred it “did not find sufficient evidence that any of the officers committed a crime.”
The USCP had announced in January that it suspended six officers with pay over their actions on Jan. 6, and that more officers were under investigation based on video and other open-source materials showing instances of potential violations of department regulations and policies. It isn’t clear if these same six cases are the ones identified in the update.
Capitol Police officials didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Potentially Aided by Some Police
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, told reporters at the time that the suspensions were related to officers “that potentially facilitated, on a big level or small level in any way” the breach of the Capitol building that took place during the joint session of Congress, while lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence counted electoral votes.
Protesters were demanding transparency for audits of the elections after allegations of election fraud and concerns over Democrat-led alteration of voting rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While Democratic lawmakers have pushed the narrative that the Jan. 6 breach was an “insurrection,” largely during the failed January impeachment effort against President Donald Trump, no one who participated in the breach has been charged with insurrection.
One of the officers suspended by USCP was caught on camera taking a selfie with one of the protesters. Another suspended officer was reportedly seen wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat and was seen directing people around, Ryan said.
Other videos show police officers standing motionless as groups made their way into the Capitol building. Some of those who entered the building claimed that officers allowed them inside.
According to the Sept. 11 update, the department hasn’t been able to identify all officers being investigated.
“Some complaints did not contain enough information to identify the officer at the center of the complaint,” it said of 12 of the 38 cases.
The update also said that a seventh case involving a USCP official is “still pending,” with the investigation involving alleged “unsatisfactory performance and conduct unbecoming.” An internal investigation of the official was triggered “after a criminal investigation in which charges were not filed,” it said.
The department didn’t provide further details, saying that “USCP internal investigations, including any recommended disciplinary actions, as well as personnel matters are not public information” and that officer names, witness names, and complainant names were redacted from its report to the Department of Justice.
USCP operations aren’t subject to freedom of information laws, given the sensitive nature of their mission to secure the safety of members of Congress, although some members have urged the department to make their reports available to the public given the importance of determining the events of Jan. 6 and the need for transparency to restore confidence in the police department.
The USCP is “committed to accountability when officers fail to meet the standards governed by USCP policies and the Congressional Community’s expectations,” the statement reads.
“The six sustained cases should not diminish the heroic efforts of the United States Capitol Police officers,” it added. “On January 6, the bravery and courage exhibited by the vast majority of our employees was inspiring.”
More than 140 officers, including officers of the Metropolitan Police Department, were injured on Jan. 6, with $1.5 million in damage reported at the Capitol building. Two officers and four protesters died during and following the breach. USCP officer Brian Sicknick died from natural causes on Jan. 7, and officer Howie Liebengood died of suicide on Jan. 9.
Two older male protesters, Kevin Greeson and Benjamin Phillips, died naturally from hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and another, Roseanne Boyland, from an accidental drug overdose.
The fourth protester, unarmed military veteran and Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, was fatally shot by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd when she breached a door leading to the House chamber. The department said that following its internal investigation, Byrd had acted within department policy, in agreement with an earlier DOJ finding. Babbitt’s family said it plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit for excessive use of force.
More than 600 people across nearly 50 states have since been charged in relation to the breach, and various federal agencies are probing crimes that were committed.
USCP Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told Congress in February that an estimated 800 demonstrators breached the capitol, while well in excess of 10,000 demonstrators traversed the Capitol grounds. According to Epoch Times reporters on site, the majority of the protesters who remained outside the Capitol building on Jan. 6 were peaceful.
Members of Congress criticized the USCP in the wake of Jan. 6 for its inability to secure the U.S. Capitol, with calls for investigations and reform to prevent a repeat of such security lapses in the future.
In January, House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said that according to briefings on the security failures, “It is now obvious that intelligence agencies had ample evidence an angry mob would descend on Washington, with Congress’s meeting to certify the presidential election as the intended target.
“The law enforcement agencies tasked with protecting the Capitol did not act on this intelligence or adequately prepare for the looming threat,” she said.
Kash Patel, who served as chief of staff to President Donald Trump’s acting secretary of defense, has also said that the USCP and Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., turned down an offer from the Trump administration for thousands of National Guardsmen and women on Jan. 4. The USCP, based on their assessment of the intelligence, believed that there was “no credible threat” for Jan. 6, Pittman told the February hearing.
Pittman apologized for the department’s failings, saying that their assessment of the intelligence didn’t indicate that “tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol.” She blamed the lack of preparedness on the conduct of the large number of “everyday Americans who took on a mob mentality because they were angry and desperate.”
Law enforcement agencies said in July that of those charged, more than 50 were charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer. Meanwhile, the majority of the cases were over nonviolent charges such as entering a restricted building, obstruction of an official proceeding, and civil disorder.
Many of those charged have been held in jail pending trial for eight months, including some who aren’t accused of acts of violence. A “Justice for J6” rally, spearheaded by former Trump campaign official Matt Braynard, to protest the denial of bail, medical care, and access to attorneys to nonviolent protesters, is planned for Sept. 18.
Isabel van Brugen, Zachary Stieber, and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.