Virginia police department fires 2 officers charged in Capitol riot

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A Virginia police department has announced the firings Tuesday of two officers who are facing charges for their alleged participation in the storming of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. 

Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson, both of whom work for the Rocky Mount Police Department, have each been charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. 

“The actions by the two have driven our beautiful town into the national spotlight in ways that do not reflect our whole community and the people who call Rocky Mount home,” the police department, which is located just south of Roanoke, said in a statement. 

Police officers Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson took a selfie inside the U.S. Capitol during an insurrection. Fracker is a member of the National Guard, the Army said Friday.
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“We want to reinforce our commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our citizens and business, and to upholding the law,” the department continued. “Our officers are held to high standards for how they conduct themselves on and off-duty and we are proud of the dedication and sacrifice made to keeping our community safe.” 

The Rocky Mount Police Department also said it will continue to assist federal investigators as needed. 

Both Fracker and Robertson, who are military veterans, were arrested in Virginia on Jan. 12. 

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On the same day that a group of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Fracker and Robertson were photographed inside the building in front of a statue of John Stark, according to prosecutors. Fracker is seen making an obscene gesture as Robertson points to Fracker while holding a wooden rod he later identified as an American flag pole. 

Stark served in the British Army during the French and Indian war, as well as the Continental Army in the American Revolution. A New Hampshire native, he coined the state’s motto: “Live free or die.” 

Prior to their firings, Fracker and Robertson had been placed on administrative leave. The Rocky Mount Police Department first notified federal authorities about the officers’ presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, the Town of Rocky Mount said in its own statement. Fracker is a K-9 unit officer who has worked for the department since 2017. Robertson is his platoon sergeant. 

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In a statement to The Roanoke Times, Fracker has defended his actions at the Capitol as an “expression of grief against what very many Americans would consider tyranny.” 

“My entire adult life has been dedicated to protecting my fellow Americans. I’ve never once cared about skin color, religion, political views, sexual orientation or anything. Americans are Americans, we bleed the same,” he wrote. “I have fought against terrorists who threatened our way of life. I’ve put away drug dealers who would have seen to our children getting addicted to their product just so they could make a buck.” 

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