7 years in jail for ex-policeman who rioted at US Capitol | US Elections 2020 News

A former Virginia police sergeant who joined Donald Trump’s supporters in storming the USA Capitol on January 6, 2021, was sentenced to seven years and three months in jail, matching the longest jail sentence thus far amongst a whole bunch of Capitol riot instances.

Former Rocky Mount Police Sergeant Thomas Robertson declined to handle the court docket earlier than US District Decide Christopher Cooper sentenced him to seven years and three months in jail on Thursday. Cooper additionally sentenced Robertson to 3 years of supervised launch after his jail time period.

Federal prosecutors had really useful an eight-year jail sentence for Robertson. His sentence equals that of Man Reffitt, a Texas man who attacked the Capitol whereas armed with a holstered handgun.

Robertson will get credit score for the 13 months he has already spent in custody. Robertson has been jailed since Cooper dominated final yr that he violated the phrases of his pretrial launch by possessing firearms.

The choose stated he was troubled by Robertson’s conduct since his arrest — not simply his stockpiling of weapons but in addition his phrases advocating for violence. After January 6, Robertson informed a good friend that he was ready to combat and die in a civil warfare, and he clung to baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from then President Donald Trump, the choose famous.

Sentencing tips calculated by Cooper really useful a jail time period starting from seven years and three months to 9 years.

“It’s a very long time as a result of it displays the seriousness of the offences that you just have been convicted of,” the choose stated.

In April, a jury convicted Robertson of attacking the Capitol to hinder Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory. Jurors discovered Robertson responsible of all six counts in his indictment, together with expenses that he interfered with cops on the Capitol and that he entered a restricted space with a harmful weapon, a big wood stick.

Robertson’s legal professionals stated the Military veteran was utilizing the stick to assist him stroll as a result of he has a limp from getting shot in the suitable thigh whereas working as a non-public contractor for the Protection Division in Afghanistan in 2011.

The choose stated he agreed with jurors that Robertson went to the Capitol to intrude with the joint session of Congress on January 6.

Robertson was an “energetic and keen participant,” not “some bystander” who received swept up within the crowd, Cooper stated.

Robertson travelled to Washington, DC, on that morning with one other off-duty Rocky Mount police officer, Jacob Fracker, and a 3rd man, a neighbour who was not charged within the case.

He has been in detention since final yr, after the choose discovered he violated court docket orders and continued to purchase what prosecutors described as an “arsenal” of weapons on-line. FBI brokers additionally discovered a loaded M4 rifle and {a partially} assembled pipe bomb at his house throughout a search.

Robertson’s trial featured testimony from Fracker, who had reported to Robertson on the police pressure and entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, with him, the place they took selfies collectively.

Prosecutors stated Robertson later destroyed the cell telephones that they had used that day.

Fracker, who cooperated with the Justice Division, pleaded responsible to a felony cost of conspiracy in March and is because of be sentenced on August 16. In change for his cooperation, prosecutors are asking the choose to condemn him to six-month probation with a situation of neighborhood confinement or house detention.

Prosecutors stated Robertson “anticipated violence” on January 6, and he packed gasoline masks for himself and Fracker, in addition to navy meals rations, water and a big wood stick.

Robertson “used his regulation enforcement coaching to dam Metropolitan Police Officers making an attempt to carry again the mob,” Federal Prosecutor Elizabeth Aloi wrote within the authorities’s sentencing memo.

Robertson’s lawyer, Mark Rollins, sought a jail sentence beneath two years and three months. He questioned the equity of the vast hole in sentences that prosecutors really useful for Robertson and Fracker, given their comparable conduct.

Robertson served his nation and neighborhood with distinction, his lawyer informed the choose.

“His life already is in shambles,” Rollins stated.

Robertson and Fracker have been amongst a number of present or former regulation enforcement officers who joined within the riot. Prosecutors say Robertson used his regulation enforcement and navy coaching to dam cops who have been attempting to carry off the advancing mob.

Assistant US Lawyer Elizabeth Aloi stated Robertson was ready for violence when he went to the Capitol and did a “victory lap” contained in the constructing, the place he posed for a selfie with Fracker.

“The defendant is, by all accounts, happy with his conduct on January 6,” she stated.

Jurors noticed a few of Robertson’s posts on social media earlier than and after the riot. In a Fb submit on November 7, 2020, Robertson stated “being disenfranchised by fraud is my laborious line”.

“I’ve spent most of my grownup life preventing a counter insurgency. [I’m] about to change into a part of one, and a really efficient one,” he wrote.

In a letter addressed to the choose, Robertson stated he took full duty for his actions on January 6 and “any poor selections I made”. He blamed the vitriolic content material of his social media posts on a mixture of stress, alcohol abuse and “submersion in deep ‘rabbit holes’ of election conspiracy idea”.

“I sat round at evening consuming an excessive amount of and reacting to articles and websites given to me by Fb” algorithms, he wrote.

Nevertheless, he denied ever having “any intention to disrupt Congress” and claimed that Fracker really destroyed the cell telephones, and later lied to the FBI and the court docket about it.

The small city of Rocky Mount fired Robertson and Fracker after the riot.

Roughly 850 individuals have been charged with federal crimes for his or her conduct on January 6. Greater than 350 of them have pleaded responsible, largely to misdemeanour offences, and greater than 230 have been sentenced thus far.

Robertson’s jury trial was the second for a Capitol riot case; Reffitt’s was the primary. Jurors have unanimously convicted seven Capitol rioters of all expenses of their respective indictments.