Former North Miami Beach cop went live on Facebook from inside the Capitol during riot




A former North Miami Beach police officer was among those who breached the United States Capitol building during the Jan. 6 riot seeking to prevent Congress from certifying the presidential election results, according to a video posted on the former officer's Facebook account.

In video shared with the Miami Herald, Nicholes Lentz, an officer with North Miami Beach from June 2016 until last August, discusses the insurrection as he stands inside the Capitol building with hundreds of other supporters of President Donald Trump.

"America has spoken," Lentz says in the video, which has since been removed from his Facebook page. Lentz, a former U.S. Marine, is seen wearing a red baseball cap and a black vest. "You cannot stop millions of people, you cannot stop it. You can't. It's impossible," he says. "America has a voice, we give them the power, we give the power, the people give the power. And we're here to take it back."

Surrounded by other members of the pro-Trump mob, Lentz said he was "not here to hurt any cops." But, he added: "This is overwhelming for them. There's no way they can hold us back."

One police officer was killed during the riot. The footage Lentz posted was not marked for public viewing but was obtained by the Herald from someone who saw it and shared it. It does not show him participating in any physical violence or reveal how he entered the Capitol.

So far, at least 90 people have been arrested in connection with the riot, which was incited by Trump and resulted in the deaths of four of the rioters.

Lentz did not respond to a request for comment Monday. North Miami Beach officials said Lentz worked for the department until last August, but police declined to comment on whether he was the man shown in the Facebook video. The department also did not immediately confirm the reason for Lentz's departure.

But Mayor Anthony DeFillipo told the Herald that Lentz was indeed the former police officer who was seen at the Capitol. City Manager Esmond Scott also said the police department told him last week that a former city officer had entered the Capitol during the riot.

The footage obtained by the Herald shows it was posted from a Facebook account using Lentz's name and his current profile picture. The same Facebook profile describes Lentz as a Marine veteran. Past media reports confirm that Lentz is a former U.S. Marine.

Lentz, 41, previously worked for the Fort Pierce police department in St. Lucie County from 2014 to 2016. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, he voluntarily left his position in North Miami Beach on Aug. 17, 2020. An FDLE spokesman said it does not appear that Lentz is currently working as a sworn police officer in the state.

A photograph posted on social media by the North Miami Beach police department on June 8, 2016, shows Nicholes Lentz (far left) being sworn in as an officer.
A photograph posted on social media by the North Miami Beach police department on June 8, 2016, shows Nicholes Lentz (far left) being sworn in as an officer.  

News stories in September 2017 described how Lentz helped rescue a mother and her 4-month-old child as floodwaters from Hurricane Irma filled their home in North Miami Beach. The public part of his Facebook page also is fairly innocuous, full of shots of his motorcycle and his tattoos and includes a video of him playing guitar and singing. One shot features a Trump sign in the background, but nothing else is overtly political.

But the friends-only posts on his account - including the footage from the Capitol - are more explicit, according to posts shared with the Herald. On Nov. 2, the day before the election, Lentz shared images of himself at a shooting range and added the caption: "When Trump wins, I can't wait to see if someone is going to play the game (come f--- around and find out) with me. The RED wave is coming."

Last June, a Twitter user shared a screenshot of an insensitive comment on Facebook that appeared to come from Lentz's account, tagging the North Miami Beach police department and saying he believed Lentz should be fired.

"I was truly disgusted and heart broken yesterday as I shared my experience with police brutality [and] this officer Nicholes Lentz said it's ok. Next, I will share with my 12k followers @myNMBPolice," the tweet said.

The Facebook comment from Lentz's account suggests, wrongly, that there is no systemic racism in the United States, citing the fact that some of the country's best athletes are Black, and adding: "You didn't get racially profiled by the police, you look like a f------ criminal with your stupid a-- beard and your pants hanging off your a-- and your corn rolls and talking like an uneducated person. That's why they stop you."

Separately, a website called wypipocancelled.com - self-described as "a crowd-sourced anti-racism project" - published a page on Lentz around the same time, featuring screenshots of racist memes that Lentz's account shared on Facebook.

The page also features a May 30 post from Lentz's account that says: "Calling all vets [in] South Florida or anyone else that is not going to let this happen to our community. I'll be damn if I fought for some far off lands freedom of peace and not fight for mine own land. I'm [taking] action people not Facebook chat. [Private message] me or comment, let's get organized."

The context of the post is unclear, but it came five days after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, sparking nationwide protests and backlash from conservatives.

Lentz previously owned two franchises with the fitness company Body20 in Boca Raton, where he lives, according to his Facebook profile. A spokesman for Body20 said Lentz ended his affiliation with the company over a year ago.

"Mr. Lentz's posts and statements are his own and are not to be construed, in any way, as being attributable to BODY20 or the BODY20 franchise system," the company said in a statement.

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