An FBI agent then showed him his own deleted images and videos from the Rotunda on January 6, according to court documents.
Faced with photo evidence, Pham then admitted to climbing over collapsed fences to get inside. However, he insisted his reasons were benign: he simply wanted the rare opportunity to look at “historical art,” investigators said.
Pham, 48, was arrested Wednesday on charges of illegally entering the Capitol and forcibly entering and behaving unreasonably in the Capitol. He is one of more than a dozen non-investigating police officers allegedly involved in the violent and chaotic uprising earlier this month.
Pham resigned on January 1
In a statement Wednesday acknowledging Pham’s arrest, Acevedo said the police department had worked with the FBI to investigate Pham’s involvement in the riot. Houston police are now auditing all of Pham’s arrests, including a review of the camera footage, “to make sure there are no irregularities,” Acevedo said.
Federal investigators interviewed Pham at his home in Richmond, Texas, on Jan. 12. After denying entering the Capitol during the riots, a special agent asked to review the images on his phone.
Although there were no photos from Jan. 6, the agent checked Pham’s “deleted” folder and found videos and images of him in the Rotunda, including a shot of him posing in front of a statue of former President Gerald Ford affixed to Trump 2020, they said. federal officials.
After the agent showed Pham the digital proof that he was indeed in the Capitol, she reminded him that it was illegal to lie to a federal agent.
Then Pham changed his history, federal agents said, insisting he just wanted to see art in the Capitol.
He added that he was not a member of the social media groups that promoted the rally and that he had not met with any of President Donald Trump’s supporters before the event. Pham also said he did not bring weapons to Washington and that he “did not intend to commit any act of violence or vandalism in the Capitol,” according to court documents.
When the rally ended, Pham said he noticed people walking toward the Capitol and followed the crowd. He then admitted to entering the building, adding that he saw police guarding the Capitol, but “did not commit to them,” according to federal investigators.
Pham told investigators he stayed at the Rotunda for 10 to 15 minutes, taking photos and videos before leaving. Metadata on his phone supports the story, investigators said.
In a statement to NBC News, Pham’s lawyer Nicole Hochglaub said Pham was cooperating with the FBI and that he was “deeply saddened to be connected to the domestic terrorists who attacked our Capitol on January 6” and “strongly believes in the rule of law and that President Biden’s election was fair and free. “
It is not clear when Pham should return to court.