Charles Co. corrections officers at Capitol during riot reinstated, unlikely to face criminal charges

Two suspended Charles County, Maryland, corrections officers, investigated for being “inappropriately present” on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, have been reinstated, WTOP has learned.

However, the officers, who were suspended with pay, are still the subject of an internal investigation, which could conclude they violated agency policies during the riot.

While federal investigators continue to research and gather evidence regarding the actions of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office corrections officers, federal authorities have given no indication the officers will face any criminal charges, Charles County Sheriff Troy D. Berry said in an emailed statement to WTOP.

Therefore, the two officers were reinstated, the sheriff said.

In a video taken by an unknown person that was recently posted on the Charles County Matters Facebook page, a man in a red hat walked into the video frame, pushed and broke an exterior window of the Capitol during the riot.

A few feet away, one of the Charles County corrections officers was recording video of the incident on his smartphone, while another officer calmly watched, with his hands in his pockets.

It’s unclear who is speaking, but a person nearby said, “You’ve got to tell your grandchildren about that one.”

Although the video has been recently publicized, the county sheriff’s office viewed it Jan. 12, when it announced an officer was being investigated, after “command staff received an internal complaint of the employee’s possible involvement.”

The other officer, who was shown videotaping the window-breaking, came forward after his coworker was suspended.

According to sources familiar with the federal investigation, there’s no indication the Charles County officers ever entered the Capitol or destroyed any property.

However, the internal investigation by the department’s office of professional responsibility could find the officers violated agency policy based on their actions and proximity to the lawlessness.

In the emailed statement, the sheriff said: “I recognize this is a matter of great concern to many people for many reasons, none of which is lost on this agency.”

The sheriff’s statement went on to say: “While I support lawful and peaceful expressions of freedom of speech and assembly, I do not condone the violence we observed that day from some of the participants. I am committed to conducting a thorough, fair, and complete investigation and I will continue our work in enhancing public trust.”

Glynis Kazanjian

Glynis Kazanjian has been a freelance writer covering Maryland politics and government on the local, state and federal for the last 11 years. Her work is published in Maryland Matters, the Baltimore Post Examiner, Bethesda Beat and Md. Reporter. She has also worked as a true crime researcher.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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