scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Probe into off-duty Boston police presence at last year’s Jan. 6 insurrection is ongoing

Supporters of then-President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.Kenny Holston/NYT

A year after an insurrection at the US Capitol, Boston police have yet to wrap up a probe into whether any of its officers were involved in the unrest in Washington, D.C.

Boston police spokesman Sergeant Detective John Boyle said Wednesday the department is still actively investigating any officers’ involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection, though he declined to specify when it might be concluded.

The Globe has reported that Joe Abasciano, a retired Marine who served in Iraq and who is best known locally for organizing Back the Blue events across Massachusetts, is one of the officers under investigation.


Citing police records, NBC 10 reported that another Boston officer, Michael J. Geary, was being investigated after someone alleged that he posted a Facebook message to “entice violence” the day after the Capitol insurrection.

Abasciano, Boyle said, remains out due to a medical incapacitation but is still receiving a salary. Geary, meanwhile, is still on active duty. The department has refused to confirm who is the subject of the internal probe connected to the Jan. 6 demonstration and ensuing violence in Washington, during which angry supporters of former president Donald Trump breached and ransacked the US Capitol, and five people died.

The investigation had seemed to be nearing its end last May, when acting commissioner Gregory Long said he expected the investigation to conclude “in the next couple of weeks.”

On Wednesday, Boyle acknowledged Long’s comments but declined to answer questions about why the probe remains open. Internal investigations at BPD can languish for years. A 2020 Globe analysis of department data found complaints, especially when brought by citizens, are not often substantiated, and that BPD rarely punishes officers with more than an oral reprimand when they are found to have acted inappropriately.

Last year, the possibility of a Boston officer’s presence at the Jan. 6 tumult caused controversy locally, with a pair of city councilors demanding the department produce a public report of its probe into the matter, adding that any city employee who was part of the attack on the Capitol should be fired.


During a news conference at Tufts Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Michelle Wu acknowledged the investigation had yet to conclude.

Asked why the probe was still ongoing, Wu said “I will look into it and report back.”

According to a Washington Post report from last January, at least 29 current and former police officers were at the Jan. 6 rally.

Across the country, police departments have sought to identify whether officers went to the Capitol. The New York Police Department said it would proactively assist federal investigators in trying to identify whether its officers were involved, and Seattle police fired two officers after they attended the protests and stood by during the attack the Capitol, the BBC reported.

The Department of Justice charged two Virginia police officers who, while off duty, attended the riots and entered the Capitol; they were identified in photographs of the rioters inside the Capitol building.

Tom Nolan, a retired Boston police lieutenant who was an anti-corruption investigator in the department for five years, said of the Boston police’s investigation into the matter, “I don’t see how and under what circumstances it could take an entire year.”


Other police departments across the US, he said, have already publicly identified their personnel who were at the Jan. 6 unrest, he said.

“It’s unusual for it to take this long to identify someone who has already been identified on social media,” Nolan said.

He added, “I don’t see any other reason than intentional foot-dragging.”

Milton J. Valencia of Globe staff contributed to this report.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him @Danny__McDonald. Elizabeth Koh can be reached at Follow her @elizabethrkoh.