Jury selection begins in trial of Virginia police officer involved in Jan. 6 riot

Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 7:05 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Jury selection will continue into a second day for former Rocky Mount, Virginia Police Officer Thomas Robertson. The selection process began on Monday morning.

Robertson faces six federal charges for crimes prosecutors allege he committed during and after the January 6th, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol. Last week, Judge Christopher Cooper told lawyers potential jurors will not be immediately disqualified just because they are aware of what happened on January 6th, or even if they have opinions about the insurrection at the Capitol.

Former federal litigator and University of Maryland law professor Michael Greenberger said, while that is unusual for most trials, it is standard procedure for a case with this level of visibility.

“In a situation where so many people know about this incident, where it was broadcast nationally, if you can’t go to the fundamental question, you’re not going to have a jury,” Greenberger said. “If you’re disqualifying somebody because they saw it, everybody saw it, and you won’t have a jury.”

This jury will hear from prosecutors who say they have evidence showing Robertson committed multiple crimes during the January 6th riot.

Greenberger said, in his experience, juries tend to be sympathetic toward police officers, which could be swing a jury in Robertson’s favor. However, this is not a standard police officer case because Robertson was not in the line of duty.

Prosecutors say they’ll spend roughly three days making their case against Robertson and will call several government and law enforcement officials to testify. That includes an official from Rocky Mount, who will speak to Robertson’s police training and experience. Robertson’s defense says their rebuttal will take about a day.

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