Federal prosecutors are asking a federal judge to sentence convicted Capitol rioter and ex-Virginia cop Thomas Robertson to eight years in prison.
In April, Robertson was found guilty by a jury of six federal criminal charges, including five felonies. The felonies included obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building while carrying a dangerous weapon, and tampering with a document or proceedings, alongside other charges. The weapon Robertson wielded during the riot was what authorities described as a large wooden stick. Robertson called it a flagpole, but prosecutors noted in their sentencing memo that there’s no evidence it ever carried a flag while Robertson — who brought it with him to D.C. from his Virginia home — carried it around the Capitol. The charge of evidence tampering relates to Robertson’s destruction of phones that belonged to him and a co-defendant who took a plea deal and testified at Robertson’s trial.
That co-defendant, a man named Jacob Fracker, was employed alongside Robertson at the Rocky Mount Police Department in Virginia at the time of the riot, although the duo were later fired. Fracker, Robertson, and a third man — who’s not been charged — traveled together from Virginia to D.C. At the Capitol, Fracker’s specific actions included an attempt at physically blocking certain officers from moving forward as violence first began sweeping over the grounds. Those officers were with the Civil Disturbance Unit at the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and prosecutors made a point of noting in their sentencing memo for Robertson that he used “port arms” while engaged in the stand-off with those cops. The filing explains that maneuver as “a tactical position used by the military and law
enforcement to push others away.” Robertson, prosecutors indicate, received training in his own military and law enforcement career he evidently put to use in D.C.
“His stick struck two separate CDU-42 officers as they tried to move past him,” the federal filing adds. Robertson and Fracker later entered the Capitol building, where they engaged in another stand-off with police who’d gathered in the part of the building known as the Crypt. The two of them eventually left the Capitol after police — who prosecutors indicate outnumbered those in the immediate vicinity on the rioters’ side — ordered them to leave. Robertson engaged in extensive preparations for what transpired in D.C.: according to the new filing from prosecutors, he “invited Fracker to join him, made the travel arrangements, supplied gas masks, water, and military food rations for all three men, drove Fracker and the third man up to D.C., and purchased and provided them all with Metrorail cards for the day.” Robertson was also positively exuberant about his participation in the riot in later comments on social media.
Addressing the history and characteristics of the defendant, federal prosecutors added, discussing Robertson: “This defendant has made clear that he has no respect for the rule of law, or this Court. The defendant, as a police sergeant, was entrusted with the power to enforce the criminal laws… Instead of using his training and power to promote the public good, he attempted to overthrow the government. And, when he thought he had gotten caught, he destroyed key evidence – and directed others to do so as well. And, after he was caught and ordered by this Court not to possess any firearms, destructive devices, or commit any new federal offenses, he nonetheless maintained an M4 in his bedroom, a destructive device on his property, and purchased… 34 additional firearms. Despite having held himself out as a public servant and a patriot, the defendant has demonstrated again and again that he believes himself to be fully above the law.”
Image: Brett Davis/ Creative Commons