WASHINGTON (CN) — Jury deliberations began on Friday in the case against a police officer who stormed the Capitol last year after then-President Trump lost reelection.
Thomas Robertson joined the insurrection with his friend Jacob Fracker, one of the patrolmen in a unit he supervised in Virginia's Rocky Mount Police Department. Fracker, 30, took a plea deal that extinguished his own set of charges, which would have put him behind the defense table with Robertson, 49, this week.
During closing arguments Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Risa Berkower told jurors that Robertson was angry with the results of the 2020 presidential election, so he “decided to take matters into his own hands to get what he wanted.”
Berkower walked through the evidence presented during the five days of trial. She showed the jury a Facebook post Robertson made on December 19, 2021, nearly a month before the riot.
“Civility has left me,” Robertson said. “[I’m] tired of always taking the high road and being beat by those who cheat, lie, and steal to win and then allow their media to paint me as the bad guy. I won’t be disenfranchised.”
He continued: ”I've spent the last 10 years fighting an insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm prepared to start one here and know a bunch of like minded and trained individuals.”
Come Jan. 6, Robertson invited Fracker and one of his neighbors to drive with him to Washington.
“Before he even left this home ... he anticipated violence because he packed a gas mask, military food rations and a large wooden stick that he knew how to use as a weapon,” Berkower said.
The men first attended pro-Trump demonstrations at the Ellipse, she said, then they walked over to the Capitol and “positioned themselves at the heart of the mayhem.”
“This was an obviously volatile and dangerous situation, and anyone with the defendant’s years of military and police training would immediately see that,” the prosecutor emphasized. But instead of turning back, he kept going — he had “prepared for this," Berkower said.
Robertson picked up his stick, put it in port arms position and stepped forward to confront approaching officers, she said.
When someone with “years of military and police training, including a specialized certification for using a baton,” does that, she continued, that is when a “stick becomes a weapon — in the hands of a trained professional like this."
Berkower then played video footage of the mob outside the Capitol and said that anyone with eyes and ears who saw that, and certainly someone with Robertson’s lifetime of military and policing experience, would know what was going on.
“Just like Mr. Fracker and everyone else around him in that first wave of people to breach the building — the defendant entered the Capitol to overturn the election,” she said.
Later in summations, the prosecutor recalled Fracker’s testimony at trial that he and Robertson were both notified on Jan. 13, 2021, about outstanding arrest warrants against them. Robertson invited Fracker over to his house that day so they could turn themselves in together.
Fracker said when he came over, Robertson asked for his phone and then placed it in an ammunition can along with his own device before they headed to the police station. Fracker said he never got the phone back, and those phones were never found.
Berkower also highlighted that Robertson paid Fracker $30,000 in the days after the riot. Fracker said they had both been fired by the Rocky Mount Police Department as of Jan. 10, and Robertson had offered to pay one month of his salary.
From the start of Robertson’s trial, his defense team tried to downplay his actions that day, telling jurors he did not try to obstruct Congress, rather, all he did was enter the Capitol, walked around to find Fracker, then left.