Virginia police officer who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 sentenced to 7 years

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A disgraced Virginia police officer who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 has been sentenced to 7 years in federal prison – marking the joint longest sentence handed down to any rioter to date.

Thomas Robertson, 49, was sentenced on Friday to 87 months in prison as well as two months of supervised release and a $2,000 fine.

Robertson was an officer for the Rocky Mount Police Department in Virginia back on January 6 2021 when he travelled to Washington DC with fellow officer Jacob Fracker and stormed the Capitol to try to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

He was caught on camera using a large wooden stick to block police officers outside the Capitol and was photographed inside the building during the violent siege that left five dead and hundreds of officers wounded.

US District Judge Christopher Cooper handed down the sentence saying that Robertson has not taken responsibility for his part in the violent mob and appears to still believe Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election.

“You were not some bystander who just got swept up in the crowd,” he told him. “It really seems as though you think of partisan politics as war and that you continue to believe these conspiracy theories.”

The judge said that he also believed Robertson would “answer a call” to violence in the future.

Following his arrest in January 2021 and release on bail, Robertson continued to show a propensity for violence and firearms trafficking, prosecutors said.

In March 2021, two months after the riot, Robertson sent text messages to retired police chief Dennis Deacon saying “I can kill every agent that they send for at least two weeks” and that he was “prepared to die in battle”.

Mr Deacon, who retired from the nearby Boones Mill, last year responded by telling him to “be smart, pick battles, plan logistics, very carefully recruit and hope its not going to come down to it … we need a place to go … remote, defensible, water, very rugged terrain”, court documents show.

Thomas Robertson wields a wooden stick to block police officers outside the US Capitol on January 6 (DOJ)
Thomas Robertson wields a wooden stick to block police officers outside the US Capitol on January 6 (DOJ)

Judge Cooper said Robertson also went on a “remarkable shopping spree for high-powered assault weapons” after the riot.

He was returned to police custody ahead of his trial and could now face additional charges of illegal firearm possession.

In the aftermath of the riot, prosecutors said Robertson also tried to cover his tracks by destroying his cellphone. He also lied about his military background – an action that prosecutors say could amount to “stolen valor” charges – as well as other aspects of the case.

When his defence tried to blame his violent social media posts in the lead-up to the riot on alcohol addiction and his wife being away, prosecutors said that he was working as a police officer at the time of some of the posts and so couldn’t have been drunk and that his wife wasn’t away until after January 6.

In April, Robertson was convicted on all six counts of ​​obstruction of an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, and violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds.

His conviction came after his co-defendant Fracker took a plea deal with prosecutors and testified at Robertson’s trial that he would not have gone to the Capitol that day if it wasn’t for his former colleague who he saw as a “father figure”.

Jacob Fracker (left) and Thomas Robertson (right) inside the US Capitol on January 6 (DOJ)
Jacob Fracker (left) and Thomas Robertson (right) inside the US Capitol on January 6 (DOJ)

Robertson and Fracker were both fired from the force following their arrests.

Prosecutors welcomed Robertson’s lengthy sentence on Friday, pointing to him taking part in violence against his own fellow members of law enforcement.

“Thomas Robertson, despite swearing an oath of office when he became a police officer, joined the violent mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and did so while armed,” said US Attorney Matthew Graves of the District of Columbia in a statement. “Today’s sentence holds him accountable for his role in the violence that day.”

Prosecutors had asked for an even higher sentence but the judge decided to give a sentence at the lower end of the sentencing guidelines. The 87-month sentence is the same penalty that was handed down to Guy Reffitt, a member of far-right militia group Three Percenters.

Fracker is due to be sentenced on Tuesday.

The two Virginia officers are among at least two dozen current or former law enforcement officers chages over the Capitol riot.