ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (AP) — A Virginia police officer who was placed on leave after he went in his off-duty hours to events that culminated in a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol says he did nothing wrong.
Sgt. T. J. Robertson told The Roanoke Times that he and officer Jacob Fracker, of the Rocky Mount Police Department did nothing illegal in Washington on Jan. 6, when a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed into the Capitol after Trump repeated bogus claims of election fraud at a rally near the White House.
Five people were killed, including a Capitol Police officer and a Trump supporter.
Robertson said he does not support the violence that happened inside the Capitol.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “For it to go like that is absolutely ridiculous.”
Robertson said he and Fracker went into the building at about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.
“We were escorted in by the Capitol Police, shown around and told, ‘As long as you stay here, you’re fine.’” They stayed in cordoned areas, he said.
Robertson said he and Fracker were not aware at the time that the rally had turned violent.
“The Capitol building is as big as our town,” he said. “Where I was at there was no violence. There was no fighting with police officers. The door was wide open and police officers were actually handing bottles of water out to people that came in.”
On Sunday, the Rocky Mount Police Department said it notified federal authorities that two of its off-duty officers were present at an “event” in Washington on Jan. 6.
"The Town of Rocky Mount fully supports all lawful expressions of freedom of speech and assembly by its employees but does not condone the unlawful acts that occurred that day,” a town statement said.
Town Manager James Ervin and Police Chief Ken Criner did not return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
The Roanoke Times reported that in a screenshot of a Facebook post that was circulating on social media, Robertson wrote, “CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business … The right IN ONE DAY took the f------ U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.”