Jul 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Former police officer must stay in jail until Capitol riot trial, judge rules

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Supporters of former President Trump at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

A former Virginia police officer arrested for allegedly participating in the U.S. Capitol riot must remain in custody until his trial over evidence that he has illegally stockpiled weapons, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper, in D.C., said in an order that Thomas Robertson was "further radicalized" after he was charged with breaching the Capitol building — noting that agents found a rifle, pipe-bomb making equipment at his home and evidence that he had purchased 37 guns online since his arrest.

  • The 47-year-old, who was fired from the Rocky Mount Police after he was charged, was initially released in January.
  • He was rearrested this month for violated a judge's order not to possess firearms while on pretrial release and also for breaking a federal law that prevents people under felony indictment from shipping firearms.

What they're saying: "The undisputed facts demonstrate a concrete risk that Robertson might participate in or provide material support to acts of ideologically motivated violence if released at this time," Judge Cooper wrote.

  • Cooper noted there was "probable cause to believe that Robertson committed a felony" despite being under felony indictment.
  • "Robertson's procurement of these dangerous weapons under the surrounding circumstances heightens the risk to public safety," Cooper added.

The big picture: Robertson is in solitary confinement for his own safety due to the fact he's a former police officer.

  • He has pleaded not guilty to four charges, including felony obstruction of congressional proceedings.
  • Robertson must remain in jail until the case is resolved, which could take months.

Read the judge's order, obtained by WVIR-TV, via DocumentCloud:

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