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Department of Justice

Link: Cops and Capitol Insurgency

Four active and four retired police officers arrested for the Jan. 6th attacks

Kris LaGrange's picture
Mar 24, 2021

On January 6th a mob of angry Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to stop the Congress from approving the Electoral College vote that would make Joe Biden the President. The insurrection left five people dead, with two cops killing themselves in the days after the insurrection. Nearly 140 officers were injured with many suffering permanent injuries. As more people are getting arrested a light is being shown on those with law enforcement experience who took part in this attack on our elections and their fellow law enforcement officials.

According to a USA Today analysis, of the 324 arrests that have been made so far, 43 are of current or former first responders or military veterans. At least four active police officers and four former officers are currently facing charges. Of the active officers, two have been fired, one was suspended, and the other resigned before they could be fired. One of the former officers is Sara Carpenter who was arrested this week in New York. Carpenter worked for the NYPD for 10 years before retiring in 2004. In the 1990’s she served as the Department’s spokesperson.

Other officers involved included two officers from Rocky Mount, Virginia – Sgt. Thomas Robertson and Officer Jacob Fracker. Both were arrested in January and were fired from the Rocky Mount Police Department on January 26th. They were each charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Another active police officer, Tam Pham an 18-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, resigned on January 14th after agents interviewed him about his role in the insurrection. Photos show Pham inside the Capitol standing next to a Trump flag. He is charged with entering a restricted building and engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct on Capitol grounds.

The other active police officer who was arrested was Joseph Fischer, an officer with the North Cornwall Township police in Pennsylvania. Fischer posted on Facebook about pushing a police line back 25 feet as officers tried to protect the building and making it to the second level of the Capitol despite being pepper-sprayed, according to court records. He has been suspended without pay.

Carpenter was not the only former officer with ties to the NYPD to be arrested. Thomas Webster, a retired NYPD officer was also arrested and charged with assaulting a Metropolitan Police Department officer at the west front of the Capitol. The officer's body cam showed Webster berating the officer, shoving a metal barrier into the officer, and hitting him repeatedly with a flagpole that had a Marine Corps flag attached. Another former police officer, Nicholes Lentz of Boynton Beach Florida, was also arrested and was allegedly streaming the riot live on Facebook. Lentz was formerly an officer in North Miami Beach and Fort Pierce.

For years, the FBI has been warning that “white supremacist presence among law enforcement personnel is a concern due to the access they may possess to restricted areas vulnerable to sabotage and to elected officials or protected persons, whom they could see as potential targets for violence.” This concern was backed up during the Capitol attack when Laura Young Steele was arrested. A resident of Thomasville, North Carolina, Steele was arrested as part of the Oath Keepers. In her application to the group, she touted her 13 years of experience in law enforcement, including in the K-9 unit and as a SWAT team member. Pictures from the Capitol showed Steele in camouflage marching with a group of people in a military-style stack formation. Her husband, Kenneth Steele was the assistant police chief for the High Point Police Department. She has been charged with one count of conspiring to commit an offense against the U.S., that is to corruptly obstruct, influence or impede an official proceeding, one count of depredation against federal government property, and unlawful entry, disorderly conduct, or violent conduct in restricted buildings or grounds.

Numerous police officers are still under investigation for their role in the January 6th insurrection. According to a statement from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, seven of their officers were investigated, with two sergeants being suspended without pay due to social media posts supporting the rioters. In Seattle, six officers were investigated with two being placed on administrative leave. The investigation in Seattle remains open.

While not a law enforcement officer herself, Jennifer Heinl, has also made headlines due to her husband’s law enforcement background. The husband, Mike Heinl, is a 30-year Shaler, Pennsylvania detective who is attached to the FBI Pittsburgh Violent Crimes Task Force. While Mike did not attend the rally, his wife did with another man, Kenneth Grayson. According to his police chief, Mike asked her not to go but she chose not to listen. Jennifer was arrested and charged with restricted building; disorderly conduct in a restricted building; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and parading or demonstrating in a Capitol building. According to court records, Mike Heinl filed for divorce on Feb. 19th, just days after his wife was arrested.

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