Houston police officer beneath investigation after taking part in U.S. Capitol riot

A Houston police officer is under investigation last week for his role in the riot in the U.S. Capitol, Chief Art Acevedo said Wednesday. Photo credit: Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

An 18-year-old Houston Police Department veteran is under investigation last week for his participation in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, Houston police chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

On Sunday, a parishioner sent Acevedo a picture of the patrolman wearing a Trump flag outside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 rally, Acevedo said. The officer also posted a photo of himself in the Capitol on Facebook. Acevedo then contacted the FBI to initiate a joint investigation into the officer’s role in the riot.

“There is no excuse for criminal activity, especially by a police officer,” said Acevedo. “I can’t tell you how angry I get when I think of a cop and other cops who think they might storm the Capitol.”

Acevedo did not disclose the officer’s name. He has no disciplinary history, said the boss.

After discovering the officer had entered the Capitol during the riot, Acevedo put him on paid administrative leave and scheduled a disciplinary hearing that Friday after a required two-day wait. He will likely be on federal charges, Acevedo said.

Doug Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, said he did not speak to the officer. Since the officer was not a law enforcement officer at the time, he said the union would not be involved.

“If you walk into the Capitol and you know it’s a crime, you have to face the punishment that comes with it,” Griffith said.

The officer now has the option to step down, meet with Acevedo at the Friday hearing and explain his actions or not go to the hearing and be fired by the boss, Griffith said.

State Senator Carol Alvarado, A Houston Democrat praised Acevedo for his leadership during a challenging time.

“Whether it’s that person or someone else, everyone who was involved [the Capitol riot] should face federal accusations, ”Alvarado said. Acevedo “is a leader in our city who is highly valued in the law enforcement community, and I think it is the responsible thing for him to do.”

This news follows a further investigation by Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, Lieutenant Roxanne Mathai, into her own participation in last week’s DC events. Mathai posted a series of pictures on Facebook showing she is wearing a Trump flag in the Capitol, KSAT reported Thursday.

“I’m not going to lie … aside from my children, this was indeed the best day of my life. And it’s not over yet, ”wrote Mathai on Facebook.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said during a press conference last week that he had forwarded the posts and pictures to DC law enforcement officers and the FBI.

“Whether it happens here within the confines of these four walls or if it happens in another state or country, you are breaking the law, I promise I will hold you accountable here,” said Salazar.

The previous Wednesday, the political news website The Appeal published a tracker showing the total number of police officers from across the country who participated in the Capitol riot. So far, 26 people have been counted who were discovered at the violent rally.

Additional coverage from Jolie McCullough.

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