A US Customs and Border Protection officer will escape prosecution despite carrying a firearm during the “Justice for J6” rally at the US Capitol, where it is illegal for federal law enforcement to carry guns if not acting in an official capacity.
A spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Washington said they were “not moving forward with charges” against the unidentified 27-year-old New Jersey man, according to the Associated Press.
The spokesman did not provide any further information as to why they were not charging the suspect, despite two law enforcement officials speaking on condition of anonymity saying that he was not at the rally in any official capacity.
While the “Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act” exempts active and retired officers from local and State prohibitions on carrying concealed firearms while off duty, it does not apply within the US Capitol Grounds.
The US Capitol Police says agents face arrest, fines, and imprisonment if bringing a weapon to the grounds while not performing official duties. Any law enforcement officer acting in an official capacity needs to contact the Capitol Police to determine if they can carry a firearm under “established criteria”.
US Capitol Police confirmed in a tweet that the man was charged with “unlawful activities” under 40 U.S. Code § 5104 for possessing a gun, but did not mention that he showed a badge or any law enforcement credentials during the arrest.
“It is not clear why the man was at the demonstration,” the tweet on Saturday said.
The man did have a gun.
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) September 18, 2021
The arrest was captured on video by reporter Ford Fischer, who said the man was not disarmed or handcuffed when extracted from the event.
In the video, the man, whose face is mostly covered with a mask and sunglasses, is asked “are you undercover”?
He appears to make a slight head movement in one direction before pausing slightly, shaking his head, and replying “I’m just here” before directing them to the location of the concealed gun.
The masked man claimed “I’m just here” when asked if he’s undercover as he presented a badge to justify the gun he was apparently wearing, before being pulled out.
Other than undercover, he could have hypothetically been simply masked & off duty with his badge and gun concealed. https://t.co/W9OagHNMij
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) September 18, 2021
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general was also notified of his arrest, while US Customs and Border Protection AP the agency was are of the arrest and was “fully cooperating with the investigation”.
“CBP stresses honour and integrity in every aspect of our mission and expects officers to adhere to the oath they take to uphold the laws of this country,” the statement said.