A Chicago police officer has been charged with breaching the U.S. Capitol and entering a senator’s office during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Karol Chwiesiuk, 29, was arrested Friday and faces five misdemeanor counts, including entering a restricted building, disrupting government business and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds with the intent to impede a congressional proceeding.
Prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that Chwiesiuk was among a mob of people who broke into and damaged the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat. They also say that days before he traveled to Washington to attend a rally supporting then-President Donald Trump, Chwiesiuk said in a text to a friend that he was going “to save the nation” and was “Busy planning how to [expletive] up commies.” He later sent photos of himself inside the Capitol, according to prosecutors.
Chwiesiuk was on medical leave from the police department at the time he traveled to Washington for the attack, the complaint states.
Chwiesiuk appeared in federal court in Chicago on Friday. His attorney, Tim Grace, said Chwiesiuk has been a Chicago police officer since 2018 and that he previously served as a Cook County sheriff’s deputy. He was stripped of his police powers this week and is on desk duty, Grace said.
Police Superintendent David Brown said during a news availability Friday that Chwiesiuk had his police powers stripped on June 2 after the department learned of his participation in the attack.
Brown said that if the allegations are true, it is “a betrayal of everything we stand for.”
“What happened in D.C. on Jan. 6 was an absolute disgrace,” he said. “The fact that a Chicago police officer has been charged in that attack on American democracy makes my blood boil.”
“We have a zero tolerance for hate and extremism of any kind within the Chicago Police Department,” Brown said. “And if you harbor such ignorance in your heart, you should take off your star now and find another line of work, or I’ll do it for you.”
Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died in the attack and hundreds of people were injured. Two other officers killed themselves afterward. More than 450 people from throughout the country have been criminally charged.
A suburban Chicago man was also arrested earlier this week on federal charges that he took part in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.
Christian Kulas, 24, of Kenilworth became at least the ninth Illinois resident to face federal charges when he was arrested at home at about 6 a.m. on misdemeanor counts of unlawful entry of a restricted building and disorderly conduct on U.S. Capitol grounds, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Kulas appeared later in the day via a telephone link before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Fuentes in Chicago. During the hearing, the judge ordered him released on a recognizance bond to the custody of his mother. A court date for a hearing in the district court in Washington has not been set.
According to a 10-page complaint, Kulas can be seen on some social media accounts and in surveillance images wearing a Burberry coat and a hat with the Trump campaign slogan, “Keep America Great.
In the complaint, prosecutors contend that Kulas can be seen turning a camera around and capturing his face as he filmed. He also can be heard saying, “Storming the Capitol,” according to the complaint.
Tips about Kulas’ participation stated coming into the FBI three days after the attack and an informant who attended middle school and high school with him identified Kulas from the videos, prosecutors wrote in the complaint.
More than 450 people across the United States have been arrested on charges that they took part in the assault of the U.S. Capitol by the violent mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump.