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CPD Officer Karol Chwiesiuk Charged With Participating In Capitol Riot On January 6

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago police officer has been arrested and taken into custody in connection with participating in the riot at the U.S. Capitol where five people died on January 6.

Officer Karol Chwiesiuk is assigned to the 11th (Harrison) District.

CPD Officer Charged Capitol Riot 2
Federal prosecutors say Chicago Police Officer Karol Chwiesiuk took pictures of himself wearing a beige sweatshirt with a CPD emblem while taking part in the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 2021. (Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office)

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said what happened in Washington D.C. On January 6 was "an absolute disgrace."

"The fact that Chicago police officer has been charged in that attack on American democracy, makes my blood boil. Makes me sick to my stomach," Brown said. "If the allegations are true, it breaks my heart."

Brown said Chwiesiuk was charged with five misdemeanors and was relieved of his police powers on June 2.

He's been placed on desk duty by CPD.

"We have a zero tolerance for hate and extremism of any time within the Chicago Police Department. And if you harbor such ignorance in your heart, you should take off that star. Now. And find another line of work. Or I'll do it for you."

According to the charges filed in U.S. District Court in D.C., Chwiesiuk sent a friend a text message on Jan. 6 saying he was in D.C., and claiming:

"Knocked out a commie last night. Don't tell."

Other messages he sent that day included:

"There's so many blacks here I'm actually in disbelief."

"We inside the capitol lmfao"

"N**** don't snitch"

Also in the federal charges, authorities said photos show he entered the office of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon.)

Another photo appears to show Chwiesiuk outside with the same clothing but also with a Chicago Police logo clearly visible on his sweatshirt.

The federal complaint shows that agents used geolocation data to track his moves to and from D.C. that week.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was angry in talking about the arrest of the CPD officer and how the Capitol riot was ignited by false claims of former President Donald Trump.

"We're not going to tolerate this. We have to take swift action against anyone who perpetuates because hate against one of us is hate against all of us, and holding President (Trump) accountable for enabling encouraging and defending this insurrection."

She added: "you will not be paid by the taxpayers of this city, to be a hateful member of our community."

Lightfoot said those who stormed the U.S. Capitol were encouraged by former President Trump who pushed the lie that the election was stolen from him.

"We all watched in horror and anger as these domestic terrorist walked into the Capitol, stormed it against the valiant efforts of the Capitol Police and defiled our nation's capital," Lightfoot said.

"The horror and anger intensified with President Trump said he will do nothing to stop the mob. When the country found out, and continues to learn just who was part of that insurrectionist mob: business owners, neighbors and sadly, even public servants. One of those was the Chicago police officer, bringing a total disgrace to the badge as a superintendent saying CPD should and must always hold officers accountable."

Tim Grace, Chwiesiuk's attorney retained through the Fraternal Order of Police, said his client did not incite violence.

"He was exercising his First Amendment rights, and he recognizes that perhaps breaching the steps of the Capitol went a little too far. He did not engage in any violence," Grace said. "No one has accused him of any violence. He said he followed the crowd in there, looked around, took some pictures."

But added "he's disappointed he didn't use better judgement."

According to Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board data, Chwiesiuk previously worked at the Cook County Department of Corrections until December 9, 2018.

He joined the Chicago Police Department on December 17, 2018.

In his time on the force, Chwiesiuk has faced two use of force complaints, according to CPD data:

They were for June 14, 2020 and March 14, 2021 as well as minor internal disciplinary cases related to traffic accidents on August 16, 2019 and October 19, 2020.

Brown said Chwiesiuk was listed as being on medical leave from CPD on January 6, 2021 and apparently traveled by car to Washington D.C.

The police superintendent said that CPD had a big hiring push in 2017 and 2018 and Chwiesiuk's hiring was a cautionary tale.

"You likely are going to hire people you never should have hired. This officer is one of those officers, we never should have hired in 2018," Brown said. "It's better to go slower and vet these officers and find this type of evidence out and don't hire these people in the first place."

He also warned other officers who may share the same views as Chwiesiuk.

"One of the things that we are going to do, based on what we know now, is to try and find others who are like-mined with whatever evidence we can find and pursue with evidence," Brown said. "There's no place for you. And if we find evidence to separate you, we will pursue that aggressively."

When asked if people within the department should be worried because of their political beliefs, Mayor Lightfoot said what was shown connected with Chwiesiuk is not acceptable. Nor political.

"This is about somebody who is fomenting hate and violence against our democracy," Lightfoot said. "So we're not going after people for the political things, but we are going after people who are hateful and trying to foment violence against fellow residents of our city and a country. That is a very different thing, and I don't want to normalize this behavior, because it's not normal, and we're not going to tolerate it."

At his court appearance Friday afternoon, Chwiesiuk was ordered to surrender his FOID card and passport and was ordered to remove all firearms from his home.

Chwiesiuk has a status hearing set for June 18 at 2:00 p.m.

CPD Officer Charged Capitol Riot 1
Federal prosecutors say Chicago Police Officer Karol Chwiesiuk took pictures of himself wearing a beige sweatshirt with a CPD emblem while taking part in the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 2021. (Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office)

Chwiesiuk joins several other Illinois residents who have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot.

Christian Kulas, of Kenilworth, was arrested Tuesday on charges connected to the insurrection at the Capitol.

In a complaint, federal prosecutors said three days after the insurrection, the FBI received multiple tips that Kulas had been captured in images and video during the insurrection. The FBI interviewed several people, and a cooperating witness provided video clips from an Instagram account first showing a rally at which President Donald Trump was speaking, then people walking up the steps of the U.S. Capitol and shouting, "Block the steal!"

The camera then pans around to show a man identified by authorities as Kulas who had been operating the camera the whole time. He is seen laughing in the video, wearing a dark baseball-type cap with the words "Keep America Great" in bright orange letters, and a dark Burberry coat.

The informant also provided additional information about the user of the Instagram account – saying Kulas lived in the Winnetka-Lake Forest area and providing additional information about him.

The FBI also talked to another informant who has known Kulas for several years and reported attending middle school and high school with him. The second informant was highly confident that the person seen in the Burberry coat was Kulas, and also said he was the one who was heard saying, "Storming the Capitol." Other video footage from a variety of sources also appeared to show Kulas, including video taken by other rioters and official surveillance video, prosecutors said.

Kash Lee Kelly of Hammond was charged for joining the riot in January. He faces misdemeanor charges of illegal entry into a restricted federal building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Brad Rukstales, of Inverness, was charged with unlawful entry in the riot. He apologized for his decision and said he regrets the embarrassment to his family, colleagues, and friends.

In January, Mathew Capsel, who also apparently goes by the name Mateo Q Capsel in social media posts, was arrested Tuesday on charges of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted area and resisting law enforcement.

Christina Gerding, 46, and Jason Gerding, 50, of Quincy in western Illinois were arrested Thursday on charges of unlawful entry, disorderly or disruptive conduct on any restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

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