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Ex-Salt Lake City police officer arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol

He’s facing multiple counts related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice) Authorities say this photo shows Michael Lee Hardin, 50, of Kaysville, near a bust of Abraham Lincoln in what appears to be the Capitol Crypt inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Hardin was arrested April 2 by federal authorities, accused of taking part in the insurrection in the seat of the U.S. government. According to a Department of Justice document, the FBI received the photo from a tipster who knows Hardin — who got it from one of Hardin's relatives.

A Kaysville man who formerly worked as a Salt Lake City police officer has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly taking part in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Michael Lee Hardin, 50, was taken into custody without incident by members of the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, with assistance from the Utah’s State Bureau of Investigation, for “crimes committed at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.,” according to a news release from the FBI’s Utah office.

A spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City Police Department confirmed that Hardin was an officer there until his retirement in 2017. He served with the city police for about two decades and was named the department’s Officer of the Year in 2012 for solving a 25-year-old murder case.

The FBI caught Hardin by following up on tips from two people who know him, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. The first tipster, a friend of Hardin who used him as a financial adviser, said Hardin called Jan. 4 to say he was heading to Washington to fight for the United States.

“[The first tipster] further claimed that Hardin had sent ... text messages on January 6, 2021, stating, ‘We stormed the Capitol, I am in here now!;’ ‘I know you don’t like [Donald] Trump, but He is the rightful President!;’ and ‘We will return until we win!’,” the statement reads.

The second tipster — someone who knew Hardin for more than 20 years, according to the FBI — said Hardin was in the Capitol and gave authorities a photo of Hardin standing next to a bust of Abraham Lincoln, “in what appears to be the Capitol Crypt,” according to the statement. The tipster said the photo came from a relative of Hardin.

Records from Google also placed a phone with an email that allegedly belongs to Hardin in the Capitol during the insurrection, the statement said.

According to the release, Hardin has been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in the Capitol; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol.

Hardin appeared in a court hearing over Zoom on Friday, wearing glasses and a light gray hoodie.

Prosecutor Bryan Reeves did not try to have Hardin detained as he awaits trial, but Reeves asked Magistrate Judge Jared Bennett to order Hardin to surrender his passport and temporarily give his firearms to a friend or family member. Bennett did so and told Hardin not to leave Utah or change his residence without permission. He also told Hardin to remain employed, and avoid contact with witnesses and co-defendants.

Hardin has five days to give his firearms to a friend or family member for safekeeping. Bennett told Hardin that the court isn’t trying to deprive him of his Second Amendment rights, but not having firearms is a common condition of release, so that pretrial officers feel safe when making a home visit.

Hardin’s next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m.

Hardin is the second Utahn arrested in connection with the U.S. Capitol insurrection. John L. Sullivan also faces multiple charges, including civil disorder, being in a restricted area, disorderly conduct, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly conduct in the Capitol and demonstrating in the Capitol.

Sullivan told The Salt Lake Tribune he was there to “see history go down.” According to charging documents, he was caught on video as part of a crowd pushing its way past police officers and yelling that he had a knife.

Reeves did try to have Sullivan detained at his initial hearing, but Judge Daphne Oberg denied this request. He was released with conditions, including electronic monitoring.

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