Rocky Mount police officers reportedly fired for their actions in Capitol

Thomas "TJ" Robertson says he and fellow officer Jacob Fracker have "been terminated" because of their actions, which they claim were legal, during the Jan. 6 turmoil in Washington.
Rocky Mount Police Department Sgt. Thomas “T.J.” Robertson and officer Jacob Fracker in the Capitol in front of a statute of John Stark, a Revolutionary War officer famous for writing the state motto of New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die.” (Courtesy United States Capitol Police via AP)

One of the two Rocky Mount police officers, who grew up in Floyd County and apparently still lives there, says both have been fired for their actions in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 when a mob ransacked the building and took other actions that killed a Capitol Hill police officer.

Thomas “T.J.” Robertson told The Roanoke Times that “we were both terminated,” subject to resigning. His status, along with officer Jacob Fracker was changed from being on administrative leave with pay to “suspended without pay” and he says if they don’t resign they will be publicly fired.

Rocky Mont Town Manager James Ervin confirmed Robertson and Fracker are now suspended without pay and says a formal statement will be issued on Tuesday after a complete review.

“I will not be resigning,” Robertson wrote to the Times on Saturday. “I’ll fight this at every step.”

He says a letter from the Rocky Mount town government says he and Fracker were dismissed for “conduct unbecoming an officer” and says his offer gives him and option to retire or simply resign.

Robertson, 47, and Fracker, 29, face up to a year-and-a-half in jail and fines on federal misdemeanor charges of “knowingly entering a restricted building without authority to do so to engage in conduct that disrupts government business” and a petty charge of “engaging in disruptive conduct in the Capitol in order to interfere with a session of Congress.”

Fracker is not commenting on this latest round but he and/or Robertson have given numerous interviews with American and British media with statements that sometimes contradict earlier claims they have made, particularly in posts on social media.

For example, he says they did nothing illegal and did not take part in any violent actions, but a new federal warrant unsealed Friday says Fracker, on Facebook, bragged that he urinated in U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s officer toilet while being in there without permission.

“I pissed in Nancy P’s toilet,” the warrant stated Fracker wrote on Facebook.

Videos shared by Fracker on the website showed him wearing a gas mask inside the Capitol, the new warrant said, adding “We did hahaha it was fucking amazing. Flash bangs going off. CS gas, rubber bullets flying by. Felt so good to be back in the shit hahaha I was like 8th person inside the building,” referring to his time as Marine in Afghanistan.

A Jan. 14th story in the Army Times says Fracker, now a corporal in the Virginia National Guard, is the first active member of the military charged in the mob riot. Other sources say he is now under investigation by the military for that action.

As a member of an Army Reserve unit, Robertson served in Iraq and later spent time in Afghanistan as a civilian contractor. Both he and Fracker were trained as snipers in the military.

Robertson claims Fracker is lying about being in Pelosi’s office. He says Fracker was not out of his sight long enough to have done so and writes “none of us had gas masks. We were wearing street clothes.”

The FBI, however, says Robertson sent a photo to a friend showing a bruise and wrote he was “shot in the ass with a rubber bullet.” He now writes that the claim was just a joke. “I was shot by my son two days later with a paintball and sent it to a few people.”

In another statement on Facebook, Robertson wrote:

In a written statement to the Town, Robertson says he and Fracker walked up the Capitol steps with others and Capitol Police officers handed out bottles of water and told people to stay within public areas.

He adds:

I did observe areas being blocked off by them and stayed away from those areas as instructed, as did all others I observed. 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.”

–Thomas Robertson

In a public post, the FBI warrant says, Robertson wrote he supported “open armed rebellion.”

Town manager Ervin told The Roanoke Times they examined a photo of “selfie” of Robertson and Fracker in the Capitol and “researched the open-closed status of the building, determining that the building was in fact closed, I myself turned the operation over to the FBI.”

Robertson and Fracker are two of the more than 135 of those in the Capitol that day who have been charged by the federal government as investigations continue. Several police officers from other parts of the United States have been fired and the military is stepping up investigation of its soldiers and sailors who may have participated.

The FBI says it has received more than 200,000 tips from the public and found participants in posts and selfies posted on social media.

“There is absolute resolve from the Department of Justice to hold all who intentionally engaged in criminal acts at the Capitol accountable,” Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi tells The Washington Post in an email. “We have consistently made clear that we will follow the facts and evidence and charge individuals accordingly. We remain confident that the U.S. District Court for Washington, DC can appropriately handle the docket related to any resulting charges.”

Adds the Post:

Prosecutors have signaled they are looking to bring charges of seditious conspiracy against anyone who planned and carried out violence aimed at the government — a charge that carries a maximum possible prison sentence of 20 years.

But even as Justice Department officials look to bring those types of cases, they privately acknowledge those more determined and dangerous individuals may have operated within a broader sea of people who rushed through the doors but didn’t do much else, and prosecutors will ultimately have to decide if all of those lesser offenders should be charged.

–The Washington Post

In another article this weekend, the Post notes:

The storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 crystallized for national security officials that violent extremism is not a threat exclusively imported from foreign shores; it is made in America.

These conspiracy-minded, far-right potential threats are police officers and firefighters, Realtors and bartenders, even public officials from across the country, emboldened by the affirmation of President Donald Trump and each other to publicly espouse racist views or commit violence against the government, analysts say.

President Biden’s administration will be challenged to deter domestic extremists — and investigate and prosecute them when their rhetoric spills over into violence. Law enforcement and security officials, experts say, will face significant legal, political and cultural hurdles to battle a disease that seems to have taken hold in the nation’s nervous system.

–The Washington Post

And the year has just begun…

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