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Virginia police officers who took selfies inside Capitol during riots are fired

April Roach
·3-min read
 (AP)
(AP)

Two Virginia police officers who took selfies inside the US Capitol during the riots have been fired.

Five people were killed, including a US Capitol Police officer, after a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters and extremists descended on the Capitol on January 5, storming the building as members of congress gathered to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.

The Rocky Mount Police Department “terminated employment” for Sergeant Thomas Robertson and officer Jacob Fracker on Tuesday, town officials said in a statement.

The pair were also charged in federal court on January 13 with unlawful entry into a restricted area and violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Mr Robertson and Mr Fracker shared a picture on social media of themselves pointing and making an obscene gesture in front of a statue of revolutionary war officer John Stark in the Capitol building.

They had been suspended on January 22 and put on unpaid leave while officials investigated .

Town officials said it was not their normal policy to publicly discuss personal matters, but “the very public nature of this situation” warranted a comment.

Watch: Officers charged in storming of Capitol face termination

“The actions by 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,” said the town officials in their statement.

“The process we have gone through reinforces how seriously we aim to uphold these standards and how important it is to communicate that the department works in the best interest of everyone’s safety.”

According to social media posts included in the FBI warrant applications, Mr Robertson said on Facebook that he was “proud” of the selfie as it showed two men “willing to actually put skin in the game and stand up for their rights”.

He claimed that if people were unwilling to “risk arrest, being fired, and actual gunfire to secure your rights” then their words had no value.

Mr Fracker, in a now deleted Facebook post, is said to have written: “Lol to anyone who's possibly concerned about the picture of me going around... Sorry I hate freedom? Sorry I fought hard for it and lost friends for it?”

The FBI warrant application also notes that Mr Robertson allegedly claims he broke no laws and had been “escorted ‘in’ by the Capitol Police”.

The Virginia officer claimed he was not aware of the violence despite previous social media posts where he allegedly said he had “attacked the Government” and “took the f**** Capitol”.

An Associated Press survey of law enforcement agencies across the US revealed that at least 31 officers in 12 states are being scrutinised by their supervisors for their behaviour in the District of Columbia or face criminal charges for participating in the riot.

Officials are looking into whether the officers violated any laws or policies or participated in the violence while in Washington, reports the Associated Press.

Watch: How chaos at the Capitol exposed a double standard

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