On Jan. 6, 2021, two police officers who nicknamed each other "dad" and "son" loaded their car with meals and a wooden stick, met with a neighbor and drove from Rocky Mount, Virginia, to Washington, D.C. They allegedly stormed the Capitol with gas masks, took a picture next to a statue and drove home discussing the "next civil war."
On Wednesday afternoon, they both showed up at D.C. Federal Court, yards away from the Capitol. One took the stand as a witness for the U.S. Attorney's Office. The other was the defendant.
As part of Jacob Fracker's plea deal for storming the Capitol, he testified on Wednesday for the U.S. Attorney's Office in a case against his longtime friend and former colleague Thomas Robertson. He hopes to gain a more lenient sentence for cooperating with the trial, he confirmed during his testimony.
"Could you tell us how you're feeling about being here today?" a U.S. attorney asked Fracker at the beginning of testimony.
"I absolutely hate this," Fracker said in a shaky voice, adding he "never thought it would be like this."
"Why did you never think this is what it would be like?" the attorney asked.
"I've always been on the other side of things," Fracker responded. "The good guy side, so to speak."
The testimony came on day two of the trial for Robertson, who faces five felonies and one misdemeanor after allegedly storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 and destroying his cellphone. Witnesses, including police officers and FBI agents, have pointed to footage from that day, at times identifying Robertson in brief skirmishes.
Robertson's lawyer has said he was invited into the Capitol by an officer, stayed for only 10 minutes and didn't assault anyone or cause any damage.
Fracker talked extensively about the buildup and aftermath of the trip with Robertson. Robertson, who is 17 years older, served as a mentor on the force for Fracker, both of whom had military ties.
"Is this relationship you have with him part of why you're nervous today?" a U.S. attorney asked.
"Absolutely," Fracker said.
The two stayed close after they were both fired from the Rocky Mount Police Department following their arrests a week after the riot.
Fracker said he gave his phone to Robertson in the days following the riot to "get rid of it." He said Wednesday he does not know what happened to it.
Fracker identified Robertson as having a wooden stick, which has become a key component of the trial. The prosecution says that he used it as a weapon, while Robertson's counsel has argued that he used it as a walking stick due to injuries sustained during his military duty. Video shows him using it in a "port arms" position, a military and police defensive tactic used to push past others, several witnesses said.
The two decided to go to the Capitol just a few days before after Robertson extended a "casual invite" to Fracker, he said. The two believed that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, and they wanted to mount pressure to overturn the results.
The two packed guns and their police badges in the car they drove through Virginia, but ultimately decided to leave them in the vehicle. They were wary about identifying themselves as police officers due to hostility toward those in the profession, Fracker said.
Recalling one brief interaction from Jan. 6, Fracker said he attempted to place himself in between officers that he believed were separated from their group and a crowd of rioters. One of them was missing head protection, he said, and the crowd was "wildly getting out of hand." The attorney asked him if he tried to help police once he entered the Capitol, and he said he did not. He then walked through the Capitol, past broken glass, flipped furniture and alarms, and took pictures once he reunited with Robertson, he said during testimony.
The two both made social media posts that were used as exhibits in court.
"CNN and the Left are just mad because we attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business," Robertson wrote.
On Facebook, Fracker posted, "Lol to anyone who's possibly concerned about the picture of me going around... Sorry I hate freedom? ...Not like I did anything illegal...y'all do what you feel you need to..."
Referencing his social media posts, the U.S. attorney asked: Do you still feel that way today, and how do you feel sitting here?
"The person in those videos, the photos that day, at the time it was all fun and games," Fracker said. "Here lately, I've had it presented to me or shown to me for what it is. That's not the person I am. That's not how I act."
"I know for a fact my mom would slap me in the face if she saw what I was doing that day," he added. "So I sit here today just ashamed of my actions. I didn't have to do all that stuff. But I did."
Fracker is set to be cross-examined by Robertson's counsel on Thursday morning.