The Review Journal identified a Las Vegas police officer who joined a crowd of President Donald Trump’s loyalists outside the U.S. Capitol last week.
Christopher Cooney – a patrol officer whose credibility was challenged during a trial in an attempted murder against his mother – changed his profile photo on Facebook to a picture of himself Dying in a Riot on January 6, the four-hour day outside the U.S. Capitol five people, including a Capitol cop.
In the photo, Cooney is wearing a gray baseball cap with the logo of SilencerCo, a manufacturer of firearm suppressors. The Capitol, surrounded by a sea of right-wing extremists and Trump supporters in red, white and blue, serves as the backdrop.
The Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement Wednesday that it had “received information that some of its employees may have participated in the attack”. But whether Cooney entered the Capitol with the mob was unclear on Thursday.
Calls from Cooney, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the FBI in Las Vegas and the U.S. law firm in Washington, DC were not returned Thursday. Metro also failed to identify the people investigated or to disclose how many employees believed to have traveled to Washington DC to protest the November election result.
The presidential-instigated siege of the Capitol forced lawmakers to flee the building and delayed constitutional confirmation of Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
On Thursday night, Cooney’s Facebook profile showed the photo that was apparently taken before the mob broke into the Capitol.
The officer didn’t add a caption to his post, but his older brother Kevin commented with a meme that features two characters from the Star Wars universe television show “The Mandalorian”. The meme is entitled “THAT’S THE WAY”, an allusion to the main character’s creed of following his ideals despite the influence of others around him.
But the version of the meme published by the officer’s brother replaces the face of one of the characters with “Pepe the Frog” – a once harmless cartoon that has become a symbol of hate.
Around 2016, the Anti-Defamation League marked a subset of the cartoon as a hate symbol after right-wing circles began to share altered versions of the character with racist images.
According to a Metro spokesman, attending a political rally or protest is not against the department’s policies – as long as the officer is not on duty. However, if an officer is found to have participated in the riot, the employee could be suspended or fired, according to Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, the Metro’s union for ordinary civil servants.
Christopher Cooney, assigned to the area of the Metro Convention Center, which includes the Strip, joined the division in 2008.
Several years later, his name and personal life details became the subject of news after his mother, Linda, shot his brother in the neck. Kevin Cooney was partially paralyzed.
Initially, Christopher Cooney invoked his fifth right of amendment when asked to testify in a preliminary hearing on the case, saying at the time that he believed he was being targeted as an unindicted co-conspirator and feared his testimony might burden him. A judge agreed and allowed the officer to consult a lawyer before giving evidence.
The officer eventually took the stand at the preliminary hearing and later at his mother’s trial in 2014.
At the end of the trial, the prosecutors questioned the credibility of the officer.
The jury heard very different versions of the shootout in June 2011.
Prosecutors said Kevin Cooney was scared of his mother and was sitting on the couch in his family’s Summerlin home when his mother shot him with the same gun she used to kill the siblings’ father in Florida decades earlier. A jury acquitted her in his death, thanks in part to the testimony of Kevin Cooney, who witnessed the shooting.
Meanwhile, both Cooney brothers told the jury that Kevin Cooney’s shooting was not their mother’s fault that the older Cooney beat up his mother during an argument over his ex-girlfriend, leading to an argument between the two over one Weapon.
Prosecutors said the sibling’s version of the siblings’ events was not supported by the physical evidence, including crime scene pictures showing their mother with only one significant bruise on her right breast.
After the trial, the jury told prosecutors that they did not believe Kevin and Christopher Cooney’s testimony because their stories were strikingly similar. Christopher Cooney was not home at the time of the shooting but called 911 after receiving a desperate call from his mother.
The jury found Linda Cooney, then 66, guilty of attempted murder and other charges. However, her conviction was overturned three years later by the State Supreme Court, which ruled that the jury should not have heard evidence tying the gun to the earlier shooting. A new process is scheduled to begin this year.
Contact Rio Lacanlale at [email protected] or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.