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At least 2 Capitol Police officers suspended, more under investigation for alleged roles in riot
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At least 2 Capitol Police officers suspended, more under investigation for alleged roles in riot

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Two U.S. Capitol Police officers were suspended and up to 15 more are under investigation for their behavior during last week's assault on the Capitol, and federal agents will look at whether current and former law enforcement officers played a role in the riot.

One of the Capitol police officers took a selfie with someone who was part of the mob that overtook the Capitol and the other wore a "Make America Great Again" hat and started directing people around the building, according to Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio. He didn't disclose how many other officers were under investigation but confirmed it was between 10 and 15, and didn't say what they were being scrutinized for except that it was their behavior during the riot.

Thousands of pro-Donald Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to flee and hide. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.

The congressman says Capitol Police are looking at everybody involved that could have potentially facilitated the incursion “at a big level or small level in any way.”

Ryan says they don't want an officer working on President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration "who was not doing the job on the Jan. 6th event.”

Capitol Police did not immediately reply to a request for more details.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, is among those who have others questions about whether some Capitol Police officers aided the protesters and were complicit in Wednesday's insurrection. Clyburn, for instance, said it was fishy that the rioters knew the location of lawmakers' offices.

Early videos -- one showing a Trump supporter taking a selfie with a police officer near an entrance to the Capitol and another appearing to show police letting protesters into the building -- went viral on social media.

The second video was later found to have been taken an hour after the Capitol had been breached.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who chairs one of the House committees that oversee Capitol Police, said there would be an investigation into those videos.

"A number of social media have indicated concerns about individual officers who, you know, if you look at the video, may have taken selfies with these seditionists or even let them in," Lofgren said. "We need to thoroughly investigate that, but I also know there were many officers who responded with tremendous bravery. Many officers were injured protecting the Capitol and we do thank them for their patriotism in protecting this temple of democracy."

Investigations across the country

At least seven officers in five other departments across the country have come under internal investigations as their presence in Washington during the assault comes to light through social media or other means.

One officer in New York, one in Philadelphia, two in Seattle, two in Virginia and one in Texas are under investigation by their departments for potential rules violations. Additionally, some departments have been contacted by the FBI as part of their criminal investigation into the overrunning of the Capitol.

The number may grow as investigators and the public sift through social media and lodge allegations that officers may have been involved in the siege.

Police departments have said their investigation will hinge on what type of involvement officers are found to had with last week's assault.

"There's a big difference between walking down Pennsylvania Avenue and expressing yourself and going into a building where rioters pushed police and hit police and pushed them out of the way to get in," said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.

"That will be the question. They just came and they marched, versus did they go inside the building and become part of a (riot)."

No law enforcement member has been charged with a crime.

More than 70 million people voted for Trump in the 2020 election and he often touted police as strong supporters. An on-duty officer was killed in last week's assault and dozens of others were injured. The Fraternal Order of Police, which supported Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 elections, released a statement calling on him to denounce those who attacked the Capitol and urging everyone to "reject the use of violence and to obey the orders of law enforcement."

The FBI is investigating the attack on the Capitol and members of Congress have promised investigations. A spokeswoman for the Capitol Police has not responded to requests for comment.

Wexler said almost every police department has a "conduct unbecoming" section of its rulebook that could be used to discipline officers for their conduct Wednesday. Officers can exercise their First Amendment rights but need to preserve credibility so they can testify, he said.

"Being a police officer really is different from other positions in that credibility is very important in terms of testifying in cases," he said. "Your activity outside when you're a police officer becomes relevant to testifying. ... That worries police chiefs. That's why you have internal affairs investigations opened up when you have reason to believe officers were involved."

"I think it's worth investigating. It's totally worth investigating," Wexler said. "You have a police officer who died as a result of these rioters. You have enormous concerns about safety, about police officers working the event."

Wexler said investigators have will to determine whether they were just attending a rally or if they gained access to the Capitol with the mob seeking to overturn the election.

"Did they use the fact they were police officers to gain access in some way? That would be highly problematic. Did they go into the building and follow others who broke into the building? That would be highly problematic and could cost them their job," Wexler said.

Photos: Scenes of violence at U.S. Capitol

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