Former Rocky Mount officer convicted in January 6th riots denied acquittal

Prosecutors say while at the Capitol, Thomas Robertson carried a "large wooden stick."
Prosecutors say while at the Capitol, Thomas Robertson carried a "large wooden stick."(WDBJ7)
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 4:52 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON D.C., Va. (WDBJ) - The request by a former Rocky Mount Police officer to be acquitted on three of his six convictions in a D.C court has been denied.

Thomas Robertson was found guilty by a D.C. jury on all six of the charges against him in connection with the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots.

Judge Christopher Cooper responded to the motion with his opinion (posted below this story) July 5. Robertson entered the Motion of Acquittal April 25, 2022.

In it, Robertson argued he should be acquitted of Count One (Obstruction of an official proceeding) because it failed to state an offense, that the alleged conduct didn’t meet the standards of the statute, and that the term “corruptly is vague.” On Counts Three and Four, (entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon), Robertson argues there was no evidence at trial to prove the stick must be capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to another person and that Robertson intended to use it in that manner.

The government issued its response in a Memorandum of Opposition on May 9, 2022, in which it argued prosecutors were able to sufficiently prove beyond a reasonable doubt there was sufficient evidence to support each of the charges.

In an opinion that accompanied his order, Judge Cooper addressed his reasoning for denying Robertson’s motion. He stated that Congress’ Join Session to certify the Electoral College vote is an official proceeding, therefor appropriately meeting the definition in the statute. He went on to say evidence presented to the jury showed the proceeding was obstructed by a mob of people which breached the Capitol, “...including Robertson, who was among the fist wave of rioters to enter.”

Cooper said Robertson’s 1512(c)(2) charge* was also not limited by its subsections, meaning the word “otherwise” can be reasonably interpreted to mean the obstruction, impediment, or influence of an official proceeding other than that which is explicitly stated in the statute.

Cooper writes, “...the court concludes that the evidence comfortably supports the jury’s verdict on each element: (1) the defendant attempted to or did obstruct or impede an official proceeding; (2) the defendant intended to obstruct or impede the official proceeding; (3) the defendant acted knowingly, with awareness that the natural and probable effect of his conduct would be to obstruct or impede the official proceeding; (4) the defendant acted corruptly.”

The Court also cited evidence in the form of Facebook posts and messages from Robertson, body-cam footage and testimony from officers on scene at the Capitol that day. Cooper said, “In short, a jury could rationally conclude that Robertson knowingly entered a dangerous, volatile situation, and, rather than leave, he joined in and supported the chaos... Looking at the entire events of the day, Robertson’s preparation for and participation in them, and his statements revealing how he viewed his own actions that day, the evidence supports the jury’s verdict on count 1.”

As for the stick Robertson could be seen carrying on January 6, and which became a big point of contention during trial, the Court reminds us Robertson was indicted for carrying, but not using, a large wooden stick. The Court believes there was sufficient evidence presented at trial that supported the jury finding that “Robertson carried the stick with an intent to use it in a manner capable of causing serious injury.”

Cooper concluded that testimony form officers, including Robertson’s co-defendant former Rocky Mount Police Officer Jacob Fracker, showed “that port arms is a position where an officer holds an object, usually a baton, in front of the chest as a means to block or push people back.”

Robertson is set to appear for his sentencing August 11.

Fracker, who pleaded guilty to his charges, is set to set to be sentenced August 16.

*(c)Whoever corruptly—(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or

(2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so,

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Opinion by Pat Thomas on Scribd

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