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Former NYPD officer from Queens charged in Capitol riot, officials say

Federal prosecutors allege in court papers that Sara

Federal prosecutors allege in court papers that Sara Carpenter entered the U.S. Capitol illegally on January 6. Credit: USANYE/Baker, Dineen (USADC)

A retired NYPD officer from Queens was arrested and charged Tuesday for taking part in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, federal officials said.

Sara Carpenter, 51, of Richmond Hill, who retired from the NYPD in 2004, was seen shaking a tambourine in the Capitol Rotunda during the break in, according to officials.

Carpenter was arraigned Tuesday afternoon at the federal court in Brooklyn. She was charged with entering in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, officials said.

She was not required to plead to the misdemeanor charges listed in a complaint and was released, pending future hearings.

Carpenter's attorney, federal public defender Michele Gelernt, declined to comment afterward, as did Eastern District spokesman John Marzulli.

Carpenter was an NYPD officer for 10 years, a department spokeswoman said, starting in 1994.

She was assigned to the office of the deputy commissioner of public information, sources said.

"The NYPD worked closely with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task culminating in the arrest of Sara Carpenter on March 23, 2021," an NYPD spokeswoman, Det. Sophia Mason, said in a statement.

Carpenter is the latest of several hundred people — including a number of police officers — so far charged for taking part in the Capitol riot.

The retired cop voluntarily told FBI agents that she initially had gone to a rally near the Capitol to hear about election fraud based on instructions from "President Donald J. Trump’s Twitter Page," according to a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court by an NYPD detective with the terrorism task force.

According to the complaint, Carpenter said she then headed to the Capitol building after hearing "President Trump’s word … and speakers instructing people to rally back, not to leave, and march to the Capitol."

The investigation into Carpenter began a day after the riot, based on an anonymous tip to the FBI that she told an unnamed relative she was inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and had been tear gassed, according to the complaint.

Carpenter also voluntarily sent investigators a video that showed someone inside the Capitol whirling around, the complaint said.

Subsequent follow-up by agents scanning closed-circuit videos taken inside the rotunda, showed a woman in a green coat twirling around in an apparent attempt to take videos, and also shaking a tambourine, the complaint said.

A court-ordered search of Carpenter’s home found a green coat, as well as black boots and a backpack worn by the woman in the pictures, according to the complaint.

Carpenter identified those as items she had worn in the Capitol Rotunda, the complaint continued, and "also voluntarily provided the tambourine she carried inside the Capitol, which appear to be the same type carried by the woman in the video of the Capitol Rotunda."

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