LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced Thursday that his department was investigating allegations that an off-duty LA County sheriff’s deputy took part in the Wednesday, Jan. 6, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington DC.
“I am very concerned one of my deputies may have been involved in wrongdoing at the U.S. Capitol,” Villanueva wrote in a short statement released on his Twitter account on Thursday, Jan. 14. “Upon learning, I contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and briefed them. Additionally, we have initiated an administrative inquiry into the matter.”
On Wednesday, Villanueva released a video statement in which he “unequivocally condemn[ed] the violence we saw in DC,” a terrorist attack on the U.S. seat of government that resulted in the death of police officer Brian Sicknick. Villanueva also took the opportunity to condemn the looting that took place amid widespread protests this summer following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
The issue of law enforcement officers engaging in the violent attack on the Capitol has been raised by departments across the country since Jan. 6.
“There were thousands of people here,” the acting U.S. attorney for D.C., Michael Sherwin, told NPR reporter Rachel Martin during an interview on Jan. 11. “And whether they were bakers, candlestick makers, law enforcement, firefighters—yeah, I think we’re going to see a wide variety of people that participated. And unfortunately, some of those people, I think, are going to be law enforcement officers, which—that’s troubling.”
In the week following the attack, police departments in Seattle, Philadelphia and New York—among other cities—have launched investigations into whether their members took part in the violence, according to a report from NBC. In addition to civilian law enforcement, the Army and Air Force are investigating participation by their members. The rioter who was shot and killed in the assault, Ashli Babbitt, was an Air Force veteran who had served 14 years.