Judge lets both men go home on an unsecured bond, as long as they follow certain instructions.
ROANOKE-Not guilty. Both Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker issued that plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court. The former Rocky Mount police officers, who stand accused of taking part in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, say they’re innocent. They acknowledge walking into the Capitol, but say they didn’t take part in any of the violence.
Tuesday’s arraignment hearing was held virtually, due to COVID-19. It came a day after a federal grand jury indicted both men on four charges. That includes one count each of entering and remaining in a restricted building, along with disorderly conduct in the Capitol. Also, obstruction of an official proceeding, along with disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather agreed to let both men remain free under a $15,000 unsecured bond for each. Prosecutors had pushed for GPS monitoring anklets, but Meriweather said it wasn’t needed. He pointed to the fact both men were veterans and they had told him they understood the order to stay away from Washington D.C.
Robertson previously served as an Army infantryman before joining the Rocky Mount Police Department. Fracker meanwhile was still an active duty National Guard member on Jan. 6. After a town investigation, both men were terminated last month by the police department.
In order to remain free, Meriweather also laid out several conditions the men had to follow. They couldn’t keep firearms at home. They can’t travel out of the Western District of Virginia and can’t join any public assemblies or protests of any kind.
Meriweather also ordered both men to give up their passports. Fracker didn’t have one, but Robertson will turn his over.
Social Messages Present FBI’s Case
Warrants and documents from the FBI detail multiple times where both men claimed to have taken part in the attack. In one message to a friend on Facebook, Fracker said “it was f****** amazing. Flash bangs going off, CS gas, rubber bullets flying by. Felt so good to be back in the s*** hahaha. I was like 8th person inside the building. S*** was f****** LIT.”
In another message, Fracker tells a friend “I haven’t been that hyped up since f****** Nowzad hahaha.”
Nowzad is a town within Nawzad District, Helmand Province in Afghanistan. Fracker previously spent time in Afghanistan while in the military.
Robertson also made multiple comments on Facebook that FBI agents and Capitol Police pulled. On Dec. 19, 2020, he stated “I won’t be disenfranchised. I’ll follow the path our founders gave us. Redress of grievances (already done) civil disobedience (here now) and then open armed rebellion. I’ve spent the last 10 years fighting an insurgency in Iraq and then Afghanistan. I’m prepared to start one here and know a bunch of like minded and trained individuals.”
Then on Jan. 8, he wrote “The next revolution started in DC 1/6/21. The only voice these people will now listen to is VIOLENCE. So,respectfully. Buckle armor or just stay at home.”
Telling a Different Story
In multiple statements to media, Robertson tells a different story, however. He claims the two men were escorted into the Capitol building by Capitol Police, given bottles of water and allowed to look around. In the statement of facts, Vincent Velez, special agent with the Capitol Police, pointed out several contradictions in that argument.
Robertson and Fracker couldn’t enter the Capitol legally, Veloz pointed out.
“At that time and date, the United States Capitol was on lockdown,” Veloz wrote. “The defendants’ presence inside was without lawful authority.”
Veloz also referred to Robertson’s social media posts, specifically one left after the attack.
“CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business,” Robertson wrote. “The Left rioted all Summer and just burned their own neighborhoods, assaulted numerous civilians, and destroyed and looted small family owned stores. The Right IN ONE DAY (without weapons) took the f***ing US Capitol. Keep poking us.”
Veloz questioned how Robertson could both claim to be attacking the government and visiting the Capitol legally.
“Robertson made these claims notwithstanding his previous posts that he had “attacked the government” and “took the f****** Capitol,” Veloz wrote.
Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at email@example.com.