March 7, 2021

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Pennsylvania police officer arrested by FBI for alleged participation in US Capitol riot, suspended

A North Cornwall Township police officer has been arrested by the FBI in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot in January.

Joseph Fischer, 54, is being detained in Dauphin County Prison, said Dawn Clark, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

He has been charged with obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds and obstruction of justice/Congress.  

Fischer has a preliminary/detention hearing scheduled in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 23.

North Cornwall Township police officer Joseph Fischer has been arrested by the FBI in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot in January, according to officials.

He has been suspended without pay from the police department, according to a news release from the township. 

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In a criminal complaint, officials said Fischer was bragging on his Facebook profile about storming the federal building. Under the username SV Spindrift, he published a video featuring him at the front of a group of rioters pushing police officers. 

“The video was accompanied with the text ‘Made it inside … recieved pepper balls and pepper sprayed. Police line was 4 deep.. I made it to level two..'” the complaint states.

North Cornwall Township police officer Joseph Fischer has been arrested by the FBI in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot in January, according to officials. Original photo was taken from Fischer's Facebook page, according to the complaint.

At one point in the video, court documents state, the recorder appeared to be yelling “Charge!” The person had a physical encounter with at least one police officer toward the end of the video.

Officials also reported that Fischer posted several comments on Facebook about storming the capitol building, including “there was some minor destruction and a few things were stolen…but 98% peaceful..I was there.. we pushed police back about 25 feet. Got pepper balled and OC sprayed, but entry into the Capital was needed to send a message that we the people hold the real power.”

North Cornwall Township police officer Joseph Fischer has been arrested by the FBI in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot in January, according to officials. Photo taken from body camera footage, according to the complaint.

In a news release, North Cornwall Police Chief John Leahy said officials from the Lebanon County township became aware Friday morning that a member of the police department had been arrested and is facing charges in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6. 

“No Township official had any knowledge of this individual’s actions prior to his arrest,” the release states. 

However, Fischer, as SV Spindrift, indicated in a Facebook message the day after the riot that he might need a job, the criminal complaint states. When he was asked if his employer said anything to him, Fischer replied: “Yep…. chief did.” 

“I told him if that is the price I have to pay to voice my freedom and liberties which I was born with and thusly taken away then must then there must be the price…” he wrote in a chat. “..I told him I have no regrets and give zero (expletive). Sometimes doing the right thing no matter how small is more important than ones own security.”

North Cornwall Township Police said it would not be answering questions until Monday. 

North Cornwall Township police officer Joseph Fischer has been arrested by the FBI in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot in January, according to officials. Here officials reported that Fischer said he had a conversation with the police chief before he was arrested.

Leahy, in the department’s statement, said they recognize every citizen’s right to free speech, “however, each citizen must also be accountable for his or her actions.”

“Accordingly, as required by the Pennsylvania Confidence in Law Enforcement Act, the police officer was immediately suspended without pay pending the disposition of these charges,” the statement reads. 

“While every citizen accused of a crime must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the Township, its elected officials, its police officers, and its employees wish to make clear that the United States of America is a government of laws which we are sworn to uphold,” the release states.  

North Cornwall Township police officer Joseph Fischer has been arrested by the FBI in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot in January, according to officials. Photo taken from body camera footage, according to the complaint.

“Neither the township nor any officer or employee endorses, accepts, or condones any alleged participation in a crime against the United States of America nor any act committed by an individual who may have illegally breached the United States Capitol on January 06, 2021,” officials wrote.