Rocky Mount, VA – Two Rocky Mount officers facing federal charges for entering the U.S. Capitol during the riot on Jan. 6 were fired on Tuesday over their alleged actions.
Rocky Mount Police Department (RMPD) Sergeant Thomas “T.J.” Robertson, 47, and Officer Jacob Fracker, 29, were arrested Jan. 13 on charges of knowingly engaging in conduct that disrupts government business, knowingly entering a restricted building without authority to do so, and engaging in disruptive conduct at the Capitol in order to interfere with a session of Congress, according to The Roanoke Times.
Sgt. Robertson and Officer Fracker, both of whom are military veterans, were charged after they shared a photo of themselves posing in front of the John Stark statue inside the U.S. Capitol, according to The Roanoke Times.
The image showed Officer Fracker making an obscene gesture while Sgt. Robertson stood next to him holding onto the wooden pole of an American flag.
Sgt. Robertson insisted he did nothing wrong and said he and Officer Fracker had been ushered into the Capitol building by police, WSET reported.
He further claimed he didn’t witness any violence inside the area that he said police had allowed them access to, according to WAVY.
“This is a photo I took from where I was at the Capitol. No riots, violence, tear gas, or theft. I understand that most of the violence occurred on the street side. I was nowhere near there,” Sgt. Robertson said in a statement last week.
But according to their recently-unsealed federal arrest warrants, Sgt. Robertson allegedly told one of his friends after the riot that witnessing U.S. senators “cowering on the floor with genuine fear on their faces is the most American thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” WSET reported.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also allegedly obtained social media messages from Officer Fracker in which he allegedly bragged about urinating in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s toilet.
“We did it haahah, it was f–king amazing. Flash bangs going off, CS gas, rubber bullets flying by,” the now-former officer allegedly wrote. “Felt so good to be back.”
Officer Fracker has also been accused of sending a friend a video showing him and Sgt. Robertson making their way around a barricade in order to enter the U.S. Capitol building, according to the affidavit.
Both officers were initially placed on paid leave while the situation was being investigated, WSET reported.
They were later suspended without pay.
Sgt. Robertson told The Roanoke Times that he and Officer Fracker were notified on the morning of Jan. 22 that they would be fired on Tuesday if they refused to resign before then.
“I will not be resigning,” he told the paper. “I’ll fight this at every step.”
He alleged that the city violated procedure in order to speed up the firing process, and said Officer Fracker “is a good kid who doesn’t deserve” to be terminated from the force, The Roanoke Times reported.
Rocky Mount city officials released a statement confirming that Sgt. Robertson and Officer Fracker were both fired on Tuesday, WSET reported.
“The Rocky Mount Police Department has terminated employment for officers Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson effective Tuesday, January 26,” statement read. “The Town has followed the necessary due processes to conclude our review and notify these individuals of this decision. We will continue to assist in the federal investigation as called upon.”
The city noted that many people “communicated their anger and frustration” about the officers’ alleged actions, and that they investigated the incident as thoroughly and quickly as possible.
“We want to reinforce our commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our citizens and business, and to upholding the law,” the statement read. “Our officers are held to high standards for how they conduct themselves on and off-duty and we are proud of the dedication and sacrifice made to keeping our community safe.”
The city blamed the now-former officers for having “driven our beautiful town into the national spotlight in ways that do not reflect our whole community and the people who call Rocky Mount home,” WSET reported.
“Our town is a patchwork of people rooted to and connected by their love for this area and that is where we want to focus moving forward,” the statement concluded.
Shortly after the Jan. 6 riot, then-Sgt. Robertson commented in a Facebook post that he was “f—king PROUD” of the photo, according to The Roanoke Times.
“If you are too much of a coward to risk arrest, being fired, and actual gunfire to secure your rights, you have no words to speak I value,” he wrote.
He referred to the riot as an “attack” in another post, according to BuzzFeed News.
“CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business,” Sgt. Robertson wrote, according to court records. “The right IN ONE DAY took the f–king U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.”
Sgt. Robertson vehemently denied allegations that he and Officer Fracker had participated in any violence during the riot, according to multiple media outlets he spoke with.
The sergeant said U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) allowed them inside the building through an open door, where two USCP officers provided them with some water and asked them to stay inside the roped-off areas, WSET reported.
“I did observe areas being blocked off by them and stayed away from those areas as instructed, as did all others I observed,” Sgt. Robertson told The Roanoke Times on Friday. “I and Officer Fracker had gotten separated at this point by the large volume of people, so I made my way to the statue room, a public area, where I located him again.”
“There was absolutely no indication that we were anything but welcome to check out certain places,” Sgt. Robertson told WSET. “We did not participate in any violence or property damage.”
He said they remained inside for about 10 minutes.
The sergeant further argued that he and Officer Fracker would never do anything to harm fellow law enforcement officers.
In a statement last week, Officer Fracker said that his participation in the protest was an “expression of grief against what very many Americans would consider tyranny,” according to The Roanoke Times.
“My entire adult life has been dedicated to protecting my fellow Americans. I’ve never once cared about skin color, religion, political views, sexual orientation or anything. Americans are Americans, we bleed the same,” he wrote. “I have fought against terrorists who threatened our way of life. I’ve put away drug dealers who would have seen to our children getting addicted to their product just so they could make a buck.”
Officer Fracker, a four-year veteran of the RMPD, said he served in Afghanistan after enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2010, The Roanoke Times reported.
After being honorably discharged at the rank of corporal, he joined the Virginia Army National Guard, where he continues to serve.
“My love for my fellow countrymen has no bounds, to go as far as me willingly giving my life for any other person in this country,” his statement read.
Sgt. Robertson, a U.S. Army veteran, received Ranger and sniper training during his five-year military career, the Daily Beast reported.
He was deployed to Iraq for 15 months, then worked with the Department of Defense as a private contractor to help recruit and train local troops in Afghanistan.
While working as a private contractor, a shell exploded about 30 feet away from where he was embedded alongside Afghan security forces and an Army platoon, leaving him with shrapnel injuries, the Daily Beast reported.
Sgt. Robertson also served as a Roanoke police officer before joining the RMPD.
Both former officers face up to one year in jail if convicted, The Roanoke Times reported.
They are due back in court on Jan. 19.