Conduct Unbecoming an Officer
It would shock me if there is anyone in the USA who does not know of what happened in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2020. With that said, I find the beliefs on both sides of that historical day fascinating. Please do not misinterpret me sharing this true crime case as my approval or disapproval of the actions of those involved or the consequences the court imposed.
Of the hundreds of people who went to Washington D.C. on January 6, 2020, the two in this case were off-duty police officers—one had 20 years on the force—the other officer had only worn the badge for a few years. Both men had military backgrounds. The senior officer still served in the National Guard.
These two officers first went to the infamous Stop the Steal Rally before they donned gas masks and joined the march to the U.S. Capitol. Along with many other protestors, they entered the capitol, took selfies, and meandered about the halls. They sent photos to fellow officers in their department. A few people shared their photos on social media.
Both officers stated they believed they had violated no laws. On social media, the senior officer shared,
“A legitimate republic stands on 4 boxes—the soapbox, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box. We just moved to step 3. Step 4 will not be pretty…I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting a counterinsurgency. I’m about to become part of one, and a very effective one.”
Later, the top brass placed them on paid leave while they and local government officials sorted out possible consequences for the officers.
One year and seven days after they took part in the Stop the Steal protest, the FBI arrested the two officers. Federal law enforcement officers notified the two men they were to turn themselves in for arrest that day. Prior to turning himself in, the senior office destroyed his and his fellow officer’s cell phones.
After being placed on leaves of absence, and after their indictment, the police department ended their employment, in part, for ‘conduct unbecoming an officer.’
The younger officer pleaded guilty to his charges, cooperated with the investigation, and testified against his fellow officer, mentor, and friend. Because of his ‘fulsome (plentiful) cooperation’ the judge sentenced him to 12 months of probation, with 59 days of home detention, 120 hours of community service, and pay $2,000 in restitution. And he can never again work in law enforcement.
The senior officer went to trial. A jury found him guilty on all felony counts—obstruction of an official proceeding, civil disorder, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds while carrying a dangerous weapon, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building while carrying a dangerous weapon, and tampering with a document of proceedings. The judge sentenced him to over seven years in federal prison, three years of supervised release after his release, and pay $2,000 in restitution. He also can never again work in law enforcement.
Source: US District Court, US Department of Justice, Us Attorney’s Office, CBS News, Army Times, Law & Crime