Former Cop Sentenced to 7 Years Prison for Role in Jan. 6

An off-duty Virginia police officer who says he was let inside the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, by Capitol Police officers who told him merely to stay inside the ropes was sentenced Thursday to more than seven years in prison.

Former Rocky Mount Police Sgt. Thomas Robertson, a U.S. Army veteran, also was sentenced to three years of supervised release after his prison term by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, the Associated Press reported.

Less than a week after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, Robertson told WSET-TV there was “absolutely no indication that we were anything but welcome to check out certain places,” referring to another off-duty Rocky Mount police officer, Jacob Fracker.

“We did not participate in any violence or property damage,” Robertson said.

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However, in April a jury convicted Robertson of attacking the Capitol to obstruct Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory. The jury found him guilty of all six counts in his indictment, including charges that he interfered with police officers at the Capitol and that he entered a restricted area with a dangerous weapon, a large wooden stick.

Robertson’s lawyers argue it was a walking stick he uses due to a limp from getting shot in the right thigh while working for the Defense Department as a private contractor in Afghanistan in 2011.

Attention was drawn to Robertson after a selfie of him and Fracker inside the Capitol circulated on Facebook. Robertson said he and Fracker shared the photo as a joke to let friends and family know that they were OK.

He told WSET that Capitol Police allowed them to walk through an open door, and two officers give them water and asked them to stay inside the roped areas.

Robertson said he and Fracker remained inside the Capitol for about 10 minutes.

“There was absolutely no indication that we were anything but welcome to check out certain places,” Robertson said.

He said he and Fracker would never take part in any activity that put law enforcement officers in danger.

Fracker was scheduled to be tried alongside Robertson before he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in March and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities.

The judge, the AP reported Thursday, said he was troubled by Robertson’s conduct since his arrest, including his stockpiling of guns and alleged advocacy for violence. He was accused of possessing eight guns and a partially constructed pipe bomb while on pre-trial release.

The AP reported: “After Jan. 6, Robertson told a friend that he was prepared to fight and die in a civil war and he clung to baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump, the judge noted.”

The judge said the long sentence “reflects the seriousness of the offenses that you were convicted of.”

Cooper said he agreed with the assessment of jurors that Robertson went to the Capitol to interfere with the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. Robertson was an “active and willing participant,” not “some bystander” who got swept up in the crowd, Cooper said.

Prosecutors charged Robertson used his law enforcement and military training to block police officers who were trying to hold off the crowd. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi described the selfie as a “victory lap,” asserting he went in the Capitol with the intent of doing violence and was “proud of his conduct on Jan. 6.”

Jurors apparently took note of a Facebook post by Robertson on Nov. 7, 2020, in which he said “being disenfranchised by fraud is my hard line,” a reference to the belief shared by a majority of Americans that there was significant fraud in the 2020 election.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting a counter insurgency. (I’m) about to become part of one, and a very effective one,” he wrote.

About 850 people have been charged with federal crimes related to Jan. 6. More than 350 have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor offenses.

‘America’s version of al-Qaeda’
FBI Director Christopher Wray has officially designated Jan. 6 an act of domestic terror. The proclamation, made under oath to a congressional committee in March 2021, noted Julie Kelly – who has covered the prosecution of Jan. 6 defendants for American Greatness– “gave prosecutors, judges, and the media all the ammunition they needed to brand January 6 protesters, even nonviolent offenders, as America’s version of al-Qaeda.”

Kelly wrote the “notion that protesting any public body, especially Congress, makes one a ‘domestic terrorist’ if the protest gets out of hand isn’t just absurd; it sets an extremely dangerous precedent. Which is precisely what this Justice Department wants to do.”

Robertson’s sentence of seven years and three months matched the sentence of Guy Reffitt, the longest of any of the Jan. 6 defendants.

Kelly argued that “nothing Reffitt did on January 6 came close to the organized, violent rioting that was intended to disrupt Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017.”

“Nor did it approach the weeks of protests, which included the occupation of Capitol buildings, breach of police lines, and threats to sitting members of Congress, related to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. And of course, Reffitt was not involved in riots coordinated by powerful, monied activist groups following the death of George Floyd in 2020, violence that actually terrorized the American people for months, causing numerous fatalities and at least $2 billion in property damages.”

None of those events, she wrote, has been cited as examples of “domestic terror.”

 

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