Joseph Fischer is a 54-year-old Pennsylvania police officer from North Cornwall Township who has been charged in connection to the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Fischer, a patrolman with the North Cornwall Township Police Department, has been suspended with pay after his arrest, officials said. He remains in custody at the Dauphin County Prison, online records show.
Fischer was charged with obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, entering a restricted building, violent entry, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and obstruction of justice. He does not have an attorney listed in court records and he could not be reached for comment by Heavy. Fischer was arrested on February 19 in central Pennsylvania, federal authorities said. The affidavit filed by the FBI in the case can be read here.
Here’s what you need to know about Joseph Fischer:
1. Fischer Recorded Himself & Others Charging at a Line of Capitol Police Officers & Posted the Video to Facebook, the FBI Says
Fischer, who used the name SV Spindrift on Facebook, was reported to the FBI on January 10, 2021. The tipster told investigators Fischer had “bragged about breaking into the United States Capitol Building and posted a video” showing him “in the front of the pack pushing against the police.” The FBI said the video was removed from Facebook, but investigators subpoenaed customer information connected to Fischer’s account and were able to tie it to him through his police department email address.
The FBI said cell number analysis showed Fischer’s phone was active on Verizon towers serving the Capitol on January 6, 2021, from 3:19 p.m. to 3:28 p.m. According to the FBI, Fischer posted a 2 minute and 43 second video on January 7 showing him walking with a crowd that was advancing on the Capitol building. The video shows him eventually entering the Captiol with the crowd. He included in the text of the post, “Made it inside … received pepper balls and pepper sprayed. Police line was 4 deep … I made it to level two.”
According to the FBI affidavit, the video shows Fischer yelling “Charge!” about 50 seconds in. At the end of the video, he can be seen charging at a line of police officers and yelling, “Hold the line” and “Motherf*****,” the FBI said. Fischer “had a physical encounter with at least one police officer,” the FBI said.
Fischer also wrote on Facebook on January 7, “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.”
He wrote on January 6, “it was mostly peaceful… a few became destructive. Not near as bad as media was making it.”
2. The North Cornwall Township Police Say They Recognize ‘Every Citizen’s Right to Free Speech,’ but ‘Each Citizen Must Also Be Held Accountable for His or Her Actions’
The North Cornwall Township Police Department said in a statement, “No Township official had any knowledge of this individual’s actions prior to his arrest. The Township recognizes 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 department added, “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. 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.”
Fischer is one of nine officers who work for the North Cornwall Township Police Department, according to the department’s website. He is one of six patrolmen, the website shows. North Cornwall is a township of about 7,500 people that is part of the Lebanon, Pennsylvania, metropolitan statistical area.
3. Fischer Wrote on Facebook After the Capitol Siege He, ‘May Need a New Job,’ but He Has ‘No Regrets’ & ‘Give Zero ‘S*****’
According to the FBI, Fischer exchanged messages with another Facebook user on January. He wrote in one message, “Well I may need a new job. Word got out that I was at the rally..lol.” Fischer added, “and the FBI may arrest me..lol.” Fischer also wrote, “I know they are targeting police who went.”
Fischer told the other person his chief talked to him about his involvement in the rally and riot. Fischer wrote in a message, “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 then must be the price…I told him I have no regrets and give zero sh***. Sometimes doing the right thing no matter how small is more important than ones own security.”
The FBI said Fischer also posted photos from the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally that occurred outside the Capitol before the siege. He was also captured on body camera videos inside the Capitol by Metropolitan Police Department officers, the FBI said.
4. Fischer, Who Has Been a Police Officer for 18 Years, & His Wife Filed for Bankruptcy in March 2020
Fischer has been a police officer with the North Cornwall Township Police Department for 18 years, according to bankruptcy documents he filed along with his wife in federal court in March 2020. It is the second time he and his wife have filed for bankruptcy since 2000.
Fischer was paid $104,808 by the police department in 2019, according to the bankruptcy court documents, taking home just over $6,000 per month. Fischer and his wife live in Jonestown, Pennsylvania.
Fischer received a commendation from North Cornwall Township Police Chief John Leahy in September 2018, according to a Facebook post. Fischer was praised by the chief for his role in the arrest of an armed man who was wanted in connection to a domestic violence incident.
5. Fischer Was Ordered Detained Pending a February 23 Hearing in Pennsylvania Federal Court
Fischer was arrested on Friday, February 19, and remained in custody over the weekend at the Dauphin County Prison, according to online records. The Department of Justice website shows that Fischer will appear before a judge in the Middle District of Pennsylvania federal court on Tuesday, February 23, for a detention hearing that will determine if he is released from custody pending trial or if he will be transferred to D.C. jail.
Fischer is one of three police officers who have been charged in connection to the U.S. Capitol breach. Two officers from the Rocky Mount Police Department in Virginia were arrested in mid-January, according to the Department of Justice website. Former Houston Police Officer Tam Pham was also arrested in January. Pham resigned from the department after his involvement in the Capitol riot was discovered by investigators, according to the Houston Chronicle. There have also been multiple members of the U.S. military and firefighters arrested in the Capitol breach investigation.
“ISIS and al-Qaida would drool over having someone with the training and experience of a U.S. military officer. These people have training and capabilities that far exceed what any foreign terrorist group can do. Foreign terrorist groups don’t have any members who have badges,” Former FBI agent and Brennan Center for Justice at New York University fellow Michael German told The Associated Press in January. “These people have training and capabilities that far exceed what any foreign terrorist group can do. Foreign terrorist groups don’t have any members who have badges.”
Brian Harrell, a former Department of Homeland Security official, told The AP it is “obviously problematic” when “extremist bad actors” have backgrounds in law enforcement and military. He told the news organization in January, ““Mny have specialized training, some have seen combat, and nearly all have been fed disinformation and propaganda from illegitimate sources. They are fueled by conspiracy theories, feel as if something is being stolen from them, and they are not interested in debate. This is a powder keg cocktail waiting to blow.”
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