Police chief confirms York County's 'Officer Jeff' cleared of wrongdoing at U.S. Capitol siege
An officer with Southern Regional Police quoted in The New York Times as saying people were ready to "rise up" if ordered has been cleared at the close of an internal departmental investigation, and has also spoken with federal investigators.
The attorney for "Officer Jeff" released a two-page statement this week, noting that his client's employer was "legally constrained in releasing any details or the outcome" of the probe, but that the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing and condemns the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Southern Regional Police Chief James Boddington on Thursday confirmed for The York Dispatch that the contents of the statement, released by attorney Ed Paskey, are accurate. The chief declined further comment.
Paskey did not respond to a message seeking comment. It's unclear why the officer didn't simply waive any personnel privacy issues, which could have allowed the chief to issue a formal statement from the police department.
Neither Boddington nor Paskey has released the officer's full name.
The New York Times reported speaking to an off-duty police officer from York County who was in Washington, D.C., the day of the deadly armed insurrection in which rioters stormed the Capitol building.
NYT quotes: The officer said he and his wife didn't know what would happen that day but that he "felt ready to participate if something were to erupt," according to the newspaper report, which identified the couple by first names only.
"There's a lot of people here willing to take orders," the officer was quoted as saying in The New York Times article. "If the orders are given, the people will rise up."
In the wake of that article, Officer Jeff was placed on office duty and an internal investigation was launched to determine his level of involvement that day.
Paskey's statement indicates the officer and his wife were peaceful protesters that day, and that the officer was answering "a hypothetical question posed by the reporter about what could conceivably be a worst-case scenario if certain demands of protestors were not met regarding the results of the 2020 Presidential Election."
"At no time did he or his wife advocate for, or indicate a willingness to participate in, any insurrection against any branch of government in the United States," the statement reads.
Never in Capitol building: Neither crossed barricades, entered the Capitol building or even tried to, and both left the area and went back to the bus they'd arrived in to wait for the group to go home, according to the statement. They weren't aware of the siege until they were near the bus and started getting text messages about news reports of violence there, the statement reads.
"To be clear, 'Officer Jeff' condemns in the strongest possible words the violent and lawless actions that occurred on January 6, 2021, and any calls to interfere with the operations of the United States Government," it reads.
The internal Southern Regional Police investigation "concluded that no violation of departmental policy occurred" and returned the officer back to full duty, according to the statement.
The officer and his wife did nothing "morally, ethically or legally wrong," the statement reads.
The officer also was "interviewed voluntarily" by federal agents who were aware of The New York Times report, according to the statement.
"As a result of this interview, and the facts relayed to the agents, I do not anticipate any criminal charges being filed against 'Officer Jeff,'" Paskey wrote in the statement.
Paskey did not release the statement to The York Dispatch, which obtained it elsewhere.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.