Fmr. Florida cop arrested by FBI over live-streaming from inside Capitol during riot

A former North Miami Beach police officer has been arrested for taking part in the riot at the U.S. Capitol Building last month, during which he live-streamed his participation, according to federal court records that were unsealed on Sunday.

The court filing notes that Nicholes Lentz, 41, who is also a former U.S. Marine, was arrested on Friday and charged with entering a restricted building and grounds as well as disruptive and disorderly conduct on those same restricted grounds, the Miami Herald reported.

According to an FBI affidavit, Lentz posted a live-stream video clip to his Facebook page while he was inside the Capitol where he said, “America has spoken. You cannot stop millions of people.”

He went on to add, “We aren’t here to hurt any cops, of course. I love my boys in blue, but this is overwhelming for them. There’s no way they can hold us back.”

The Herald reported about a week after the riot that Lentz was involved in the Capitol breach. 

Lentz on Friday admitted to FBI agents he was inside the Capitol, according to the court filing. He told agents he “drove through the night from Florida to Washington, D.C., arriving in the early hours of Jan. 6” so he could attend a rally by then-President Donald Trump. 

He told interviewing FBI agents that he entered the Capitol via the front door and stayed inside the building for about two hours. He also said he remained on the ground floor and did not participate in any acts of violence or destruction. Federal authorities did not charge him with any acts of destruction or violence. 

“Lentz believed no one at the U.S. Capitol seemed concerned about trespassing, nor were there any warning signs regarding trespassing,” the affidavit said. “He stated that, despite the foregoing, ‘of course you know you’re trespassing.’”

Following his Friday arrest, Lentz made a court appearance via Zoom in the U.S. Southern District of Florida, after which he posted $25,000 bond. His next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26 in the District of Columbia.

Lentz was a police officer for North Miami Beach from June 2016 until August 2020, Prior, he served as an officer for the Fort Pierce police department from 2014 to 2016. 

He voluntarily left his job with the North Miami Beach department and, according to The Herald, isn’t currently working as a police officer.

A small percentage of those who took part in the Capitol riot were either former or current law enforcement officers. 

Also, one in five people charged in the protest are reportedly either serving members of the U.S. military or former members. As such, the Defense Department has ordered a top-down review of alleged extremism in the ranks following the riot.

Earlier this month, newly-minted Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced a 60-day stand-down so commanders and senior enlisted leaders could discuss “extremism.”

“I met with senior leaders to discuss extremism in the military. As a first step, I’m ordering a stand down to occur over the next 60 days so each service, each command and each unit can have a deeper conversation about this issue. It comes down to leadership. Everyone’s,” he wrote on Twitter.

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Jon Dougherty

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