An 18-year veteran of the Houston Police Department is under federal investigation for his participation in the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
On Sunday, a community member sent Acevedo a picture of the patrol officer carrying a Trump flag outside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 rally, Acevedo said. The officer had also posted a photo of himself at the Capitol on Facebook. Acevedo then contacted the FBI to launch a joint investigation into the officer’s role in the riot.
“There is no excuse for criminal activity, especially from a police officer,” Acevedo said. “I can’t tell you the anger I feel at the thought of a police officer, and other police officers, thinking they get to go storm the Capitol.”
Acevedo did not share the officer’s name. He had no disciplinary history, the chief said.
After determining that the officer had entered the Capitol during the riot, Acevedo placed him on paid administrative leave and scheduled a disciplinary hearing for this Friday following a required two-day waiting period. He will likely face federal charges, Acevedo said.
Doug Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, said he has not spoken to the officer. Since the officer wasn’t acting in a law enforcement capacity at the time, he said the union will not be involved.
“When you enter the Capitol knowing it’s a crime, well, then you have to deal with the punishment coming along with that,” Griffith said.
The officer’s options now are to resign, meet with Acevedo at the hearing Friday and explain his actions, or not go to the hearing and let the chief fire him, Griffith said.
State Sen.Carol Alvarado,a Houston Democrat, praised Acevedo for his leadership through a challenging time.
“Whether it’s this person or anyone else, everybody that was involved in [the Capitol riot] should face federal charges,” Alvarado said. Acevedo“is a leader in our city, well-regarded in the law enforcement community, and I think it’s the responsible thing for him to do.”
This news comes on the heels of another federal investigation into Bexar County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Roxanne Mathai for her own participation in last week’s events in D.C. Mathai posted a series of images on Facebook showing her draped in a Trump flag inside the Capitol, KSAT reported on Thursday.
“Not gonna lie…..aside from my kids, this was, indeed, the best day of my life. And it’s not over yet,” Mathai wrote on Facebook.
Last week, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said during a press conference that he forwarded the posts and images to D.C. law enforcement officials and the FBI.
“Whether it happens here within the confines of these four walls or whether it happens in another state or another country, you break the law, I promise I’m going to hold you accountable here,” Salazar said.
Earlier Wednesday, political news site The Appeal published a tracker tallying the total number of law enforcement officers from around the country who participated in the Capitol riot. So far, the site has counted 26 who were spotted at the violent rally.
BY DUNCAN AGNEW/The Texas Tribune. Additional reporting by Jolie McCullough.