Federal authorities have arrested and charged two Virginia police officers who took a selfie during the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, when hundreds of supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the seat of the legislative branch in an attempt to overturn the results of the election.
Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker, two members of the Rocky Mount Police Department in Virginia, took a selfie in front of a statue of John Stark, a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.
Robertson and Fracker are charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Vincent Veloz, a special agent with the U.S. Capitol Police, wrote in a statement of facts that Robertson posted on social media that “we actually attacked the government,” and wrote that they “took the fucking U.S. Capitol” in one day. He also wrote that he was proud to have “put skin in the game.”
“If you are too much of a coward to risk arrest,being fired, and actual gunfire to secure your rights., you have no words to speak I value,” Robertson wrote in a message.
Fracker, on Facebook, wrote that he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong.
“Lol to anyone who’s possibly concerned about the picture of me going around... Sorry I hate freedom?” Fracker wrote on Facebook, authorities said. “Not like I did anything illegal, WAY too much to lose to go there but, y’all do what you feel you need to.”
The statement of facts also says there’s probable cause to believe that both defendants violated a law that makes it a crime to “willfully and knowingly utter loud, threatening, or abusive language, or engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct” at the U.S. Capitol when intended to “impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session of Congress or either House of Congress.”
At a virtual federal court hearing in the Western District of Virginia on Wednesday afternoon, the federal district’s top prosecutor requested that both defendants be put on GPS monitors and an order telling them to stay away from the District of Columbia.
Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Bubar said the government was concerned about the defendants being involved in forthcoming events “given what happened in Washington last week.”
“There’s obviously a concern there attached to some of the events that have happened and are happening or will be potentially happening,” Bubar said. Fracker’s attorney said that he had a “long history of following orders” and would obey the judge’s orders. Robertson said he would not be attending any demonstrations in D.C. around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
“I have no need or desire to go to the city of Washington, D.C.,” Robertson said. “I’m a 27-year police veteran and an honorably discharged United States Army veteran with service in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nicaragua. Again, I have no indication or any reason to be in D.C. and will not be.”
Magistrate Judge Robert S. Ballou, citing the defendants’ military and law enforcement service, said that he would not put the defendants on GPS monitors as the government requested, but said they could not have firearms in their home, restricted their travel to within the Western District of Virginia, required the forfeiture of their passports, and ordered them to stay away from public demonstrations.
“I find that it’s in the interest of public safety to prevent each of you from engaging in any type of public assembly, demonstration or gathering or protest while this matter is pending,” Ballou said. “That includes anything in any state capitol.”
A number of law enforcement officials took part in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, while a number of police officers are under investigation for assisting or coddling the rioters who violently overtook the building.
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died during the attack.