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Jan. 6 Insurrection

Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

John Minchillo

A Chicago cop charged in the U.S. Capitol attack rejects a plea deal

A Chicago police officer who allegedly breached the U.S. Capitol and entered a senator’s office during the Jan. 6 insurrection has rejected an offer in which prosecutors would drop the most serious charges against him and he would plead guilty to one with a maximum prison sentence of six months.

Officer Karol J. Chwiesiuk, 30, was charged last year with five federal misdemeanors, including entering a restricted building, disrupting government business and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds with the intent to impede a Congressional proceeding.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean P. Murphy said during a hearing last month he had extended the plea offer. At Tuesday’s hearing, Murphy provided a detailed explanation for the record, saying the offer would have required the police officer to plead guilty to a single charge of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Chwiesiuk, connected by telephone to the hearing, told U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington D.C. he had discussed the offer with his attorney. The police officer said the decision to reject it was his.

“It is, yes,” Chwiesiuk said.

After hearing that, Kollar-Kotelly set a trial to begin on May 1.

Chwiesiuk was on medical leave from CPD when he traveled to Washington to attend a Jan. 6, 2021, rally supporting then-President Donald Trump, according to a criminal complaint filed in June that year.

The police officer said in a text to a friend that he was going “to save the nation” and was “busy planning how to [expletive] up commies.”

Inside the Capitol, Chwiesiuk texted photos of himself while wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a Chicago Police Department logo, according to prosecutors.

“We inside the capital lmfao,” he texted, using an abbreviation indicating he thought it was funny, according to the complaint.

Chwiesiuk was also part of a mob that broke into the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, prosecutors alleged. The office ended up trashed.

A U.S. Senate panel reported that at least seven people, including three police officers, died and hundreds of people were injured in connection with the Jan. 6 attack.

The Police Department hired Chwiesiuk in December 2018. He had been a Cook County correctional officer under Sheriff Tom Dart.

Chwiesiuk was arrested on the federal charges in June 2021. CPD stripped him of police powers that month and later put him into no-pay status, according to a department spokesperson, who wrote that the officer is now on a leave of absence.

“There is also still an active internal investigation into this,” the CPD spokesperson wrote.

More than 800 people from across the country have been criminally charged in connection with the insurrection and 363 have pleaded guilty, according to Insider Inc. Many of the plea deals resemble the one Chwiesiuk rejected.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio about policing, public safety and public health. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1. Contact him at cmitchell@wbez.org.

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