You’d think a “retired” law enforcement officer would have more sense than to leave evidence during the commission of a crime…
A former Salt Lake City police officer was arrested Friday in the U.S. Capitol breach that happened while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote.
Michael Lee Hardin, 50, of Kaysville, Utah, was arrested on charges of entering and remaining in the Capitol, a restricted building, and participating in disorderly conduct, the FBI said in a statement.
Hardin retired from the Salt Lake police department in 2017, said spokesperson Detective Marie Stewart. Court records don’t indicate if he has an attorney.
He knew enough to not put up a fight when authorities came for him…
Special agents and members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, with the assistance of the Utah Bureau of Investigation, arrested 50-year-old Michael Lee Hardin, of Kaysville.
Hardin is facing charges of 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 a capitol building and parading demonstrating or picketing in a capitol building, according to the FBI.
He reportedly worked for the Salt Lake City Police Department until 2017, the department confirmed to 2News.
His reunion with former co-workers was probably a little awkward…
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.
A “friend” was the first to turn him in…
An anonymous tipster called the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center on Jan. 7 alleging that Michael Lee Hardin was inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. The tipster described Hardin as a “friend” and his former financial adviser, according to a federal complaint.
The tipster told authorities Hardin called on Jan. 4 to say he was heading to Washington to “fight for the United States,” the complaint says. The tipster also claimed to have received text messages from Hardin on Jan. 6 saying, “We stormed the Capitol, I am in here now!” and “I know you don’t like Trump, but He is the rightful President!” and “We will return until we win!”
A Facebook page belonging to Hardin shows photos of an AR-15 rifle etched with the likeness of former President Donald Trump along with the words “Re-elect Donald Trump 2020.” There also is a photo of pairs of Trump 2020 red, white and blue socks.
He also left a trail of texts and cell phone data…
Another person said one of Hardin’s relatives sent them a photo of him standing next to the bust of Abraham Lincoln in the Capitol Crypt. That relative, the person said, “claimed to have received the photo from HARDIN directly via text message on or about January 6, 2021.”
The Task Force Officer also made use of location data information obtained via a search warrant served on Google.
“In this case, Google location data shows that a device associated with [an email address allegedly belonging to Hardin] was within the U.S. Capitol at coordinates associated with the center of the Capitol building, which I know includes the Crypt, starting at approximately 2:27 p.m. EST. Google records show that the ‘maps display radius’ for this location data was 15 meters,” the statement says. “The information for that address did not match any information for persons lawfully within the Capitol. Accordingly, your affiant believes that the individual possessing this device was not authorized to be within the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.”
I’m sure the 2012 “Officer of the Year” knows all about Criminal Complaints and Statements of Facts…
But he faced disciplinary action and had a falling out with some of his colleagues in his final years on the force, news archives show.
In 2015, Hardin was placed on administrative leave and had his vehicle, badges and guns confiscated following a tense encounter with a female detective who was leasing a home from him in Kaysville, Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. The detective said Hardin had driven to the property that summer after being warned by a superior to stay away and nudged her with his car as she stood in the driveway, according to the Tribune.
Hardin denied that he had hit the detective and filed a lawsuit seeking $300,000 in damages from her and department leaders on allegations of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other claims, local media reported. The case was dismissed in 2017, around the same time Hardin retired.
Looks like his his career started falling apart several years ago, along with his big case…
A press release issued by [SLCPD] in 2012 indicates that Hardin, by then a detective, was named “officer of the year” for his work on a July 8, 1986 missing persons case involving a woman named Patricia Williams, 20. Her body turned up five days after she disappeared. She had been strangled to death and “tossed . . . on the roadside like a piece of trash,” the department said while honoring Hardin.
Here’s how the press release glowingly described Hardin’s involvement with the Williams case:
Initial detectives worked the case, but the investigation went nowhere. Leads ran cold. For years, Patricia’s mother, Betty Ramirez, called the Department checking on updates, but there were none. The calls started to become fewer and further apart. Betty resigned herself to the fact that her daughter’s brutal murder would go unsolved, and her calls stopped.
August 26, 2009: Detective Mike Hardin took on Patricia’s case. There was no “magic DNA” to solve this one. It was going to have to be worked the old-fashioned way — with brains, shoe leather and intestinal fortitude.
July 8, 2011: the 25-year anniversary of Patricia’s death, after 85 interviews, 38,000 miles of travel, and 400 pages of written reports, Hardin went to Brooklyn, New York, to meet with Betty. Flowers in hand, he was able to tell her that Thomas Pennington had been charged with homicide for the death of her daughter.
In 2015, the Tribune and the Salt Lake City Desert News both reported that prosecutors dropped charges against Pennington when it turned out he had an alibi: he was working full time and living in the Kansas City area — and had just been married there — when the Williams killing occurred. Pennington was later reportedly sentenced to jail on drug charges; he said the stress of the murder accusation caused him to relapse. When the charges were dropped, prosecutors said they needed more time to “investigate” the alibi; however, Law&Crime is unable to find any indication that the charges were re-filed. No inmate with Pennington’s name appears in Utah’s current jail roster. His name appears on the state’s sex offender registry but his address is listed as unknown.
The FBI continues to seek the public’s assistance in identifying individuals who participated in unlawful conduct during the Capitol Insurrection.
If you have information about criminal masterminds who invaded the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or leave a tip online. You may also submit relevant photos and videos to the FBI here.
ICYMI in yesterday’s diary, here are some links to insurrectionist arrest databases, spreadsheets, tables, graphs, and data that are updated regularly, if not daily…