D.C. judge deciding what’s next for former Rocky Mount officer charged in connection with Capitol attack

Sergeant Thomas Robertson, right, and Officer Jacob Fracker, left, posted this photograph of...
Sergeant Thomas Robertson, right, and Officer Jacob Fracker, left, posted this photograph of themselves inside the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 riots to social media.(U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE FOR D.C.)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 2:29 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A district court judge in Washington D.C. has held off on making a decision about whether a former Rocky Mount officer is to remain in jail following his recent rearrest.

Thomas Robertson appeared for a hearing in Judge Christopher Cooper’s D.C. courtroom. (WDBJ7 listened in to the proceedings over the phone.) Two attempts at the hearing were made last week, when Robertson was incarcerated in the Central Virginia Regional Jail. But due to technical difficulties with video conferencing, the judge ordered Robertson to be brought to his courtroom in person.

The hearing was centered on a motion by prosecutors calling for the judge to revoke the conditions of Robertson’s release. He had been out on bond following his initial arrest until earlier this month, when FBI agents reported finding a loaded rifle, ammunition and a partially assembled pipe bomb at Robertson’s home. Per the conditions of his release, prosecutors say he was not allowed to have any weapons.

The defense called as a witness Robertson’s son, who told the judge the rifle found at the home belonged to him and that he only had it at his father’s house when he knew his father would be away. Lead prosecutor Elizabeth Aloi countered Robertson’s son had provided inconsistent statements about the gun.

Aloi and Robertson’s attorney, Mark Rollins, took turns making their case. Rollins argued some of the items found in Robertson’s home, such as the partially assembled pipe bomb and silencers, were present in the home during the first official search of the property. He argued the pipe bomb was merely a training device Robertson used while an officer, as were some blue-handled grenades also found in the home.

The FBI also reported finding evidence that Robertson had been buying and selling guns online, which the government called a flagrant violation of his release orders. Rollins contested that buying and selling did not equate to possession. He also presented a document to the judge, on which he said Robertson would have had to signify he’d been indicted in a federal case, which would have prevented a store from allowing him to take a gun.

Rollins also presented a video which allegedly showed Robertson entering and exiting the Capitol January 6. (WDBJ7 was unable to view the video). Rollins tried to make the case that his client committed no violent acts that day, rebuking the government’s notion that he participated in an insurrection.

Aloi in turn referenced precedent and various codes of law to make their case that Robertson had been in violation of the orders set forth for him upon his release. She also rejected a suggestion by Rollins that Robertson could instead face home detention, saying that that would still enable him to continue the buying and selling of guns. Aloi also read aloud statements she said Robertson made online in which she believes he advocates for violence, with one such post reading, “The only voice people will listen to is violence.”

After arguments were made, Judge Cooper said he had been prepared to rule from the bench, but that the government and defense had thrown him curveballs. He took the case up under advisement, saying he would take something up in writing very soon, but did not give a timeline in which he might make his decision.

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