‘Joker’ gets nearly 3 years in prison for torching Chicago police SUV during 2020 riots


CHICAGO, IL – A federal judge sentenced a Chicago man to nearly three years in prison Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to setting a police SUV on fire while wearing a Joker mask during the May 2020 George Floyd riots.

South Side resident Timothy O’Donnell, 33, was sentenced to 34 months by U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood.

O’Donnell pleaded guilty in February to one count of interfering with law enforcement during the commission of civil disorder. Judge Wood told the court:

“He set a car on fire in the middle of a crowd. He did it in a way that was intended to target law enforcement. He did it in a way that could have caused serious injury or death. Fortunately, it did not.”


Before he was sentenced, O’Donnell apologized “to those whose businesses were left in utter ruin” and said he was sorry “if I hurt Chicago’s character in any way.”

In an unsteady voice, O’Donnell read a prepared statement apologizing to the organizers of the protests, the residents of Chicago, his father and his mother, who he said is retiring early from the Illinois State Police forensics lab because his actions have damaged her reputation.

In the letter to the court, O’Donnell took responsibility for his actions and described himself as “a very passive (aggressive) person.” He read out:

“It was the most outlandish display of angst that I may have been harboring from various personal accounts of mental and physical abuse by law enforcement when I was either (traveling) or homeless.” 

The images of O’Donnell in the Joker mask with flames erupting behind him made him one of the highest-profile defendants in the federal cases to come from the chaos and looting that struck the city.

In a plea deal, O’Donnell agreed to pay $58,125 restitution to the Chicago Police Department to cover the cost of the destroyed vehicle. He had faced a term of 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years.

O’Donnell has been in custody since his arrest in June 2020. U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Fuentes had ordered O’Donnell held pending trial after prosecutors said the defendant had a criminal record that included bond forfeiture and failure to appear for hearings in five states, including Illinois.

Prosecutors said that a protest downtown had grown violent on the afternoon of May 30, 2020, over the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.


Video provided by a witness showed O’Donnell wearing the Joker mask, stuffing a rag into the gas tank of the police department’s SUV parked on North State Street in the Loop and igniting the rag. The vehicle burst into flames, authorities said.

Prosecutors told the court that other individuals then “exacerbated the fire” by pouring accelerants on it and the vehicle was destroyed.

After the patrol unit burst into flames, O’Donnell was photographed posing in front of the blaze, according to a criminal complaint filed at the time of O’Donnell’s arrest in June 2020.

Although his face was obscured by the grinning mask, O’Donnell’s distinctive neck tattoo reading “pretty” could easily be seen in the photo, according to the complaint. Additionally, a family member had directed police to O’Donnell, authorities said at the time.

That image and several others were included in the charging document. Police found the mask in O’Donnell’s bedroom when they searched his apartment on West 19th Street after his arrest, the complaint showed.

O’Donnell admitted in an interview with detectives that he was the person in the mask lighting the blaze, according to the charges.

O’Donnell’s custodial sentence contrasts sharply with the more-expected outcome received by Jacob Fagundo, another rioter who set fire to a Chicago police vehicle during the protests. For his act of arson, Fagundo was sentenced to three years probation by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman.

In Democrat-run Chicago, surrendering to police before they have to look for you and being “genuinely remorseful,” as a prosecutor put it, apparently pays off for anarchists.


Anarchy in Chicago: 132 officers injured over weekend riots; dispatchers inundated with calls

June 3, 2020

CHICAGO, IL – During the weekend ending on May 31st in Chicago, 132 police officers were reported as being injured during the riots that transpired.

Not to mention, 911 operators were said to have been inundated with calls coming in during a 24-hour period that weekend, averaging 2000 calls every 30 minutes during that time.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot noted on the numerous calls that came in due to rioting, looting and the ilk. She stated that 911 operators had managed to process over 65,000 calls that came in during a 24-hour period of the riotous weekend in the city.

To illustrate the increase that transpired for incoming calls, 911 operators in the city typically handle 15,000 calls on any given day.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said that the criminal activity that took place on May 31st led to 699 people being arrested on that day alone. Those arrests, according to Supt. Brown, were mostly for looting.

Mayor Lightfoot acknowledged the criticism police were receiving in their response times to various areas impacted by the riots, but explained that even with expanded resources the crime was happening all over Chicago:

“The police department was responding to these calls as best they could with a significant amount of additional resources on the South and the West Sides. The challenge was, it was everywhere.”

Supt. Brown also stated that police officers may have been intentionally misled with certain incoming calls, so that deployed resources could be distracted by calls to areas that were not intended targets by criminals.

The police superintendent said the criminal acts have tarnished the movement sparked by George Floyd’s death:

“To the rioters and looters: you disgraced the name of Mr. Floyd by your actions. Hate can never drive out hate.”

The weekend overall was rife with violence.

The city of Chicago has now seen its most violent weekend of the year to date. It was reported that 82 people were shot between May 29th through May 31st, with 19 of those resulting in death.

This all happened in concurrence with the riots and protests police were having to tend to in the city.

The city of Chicago had recently implemented a curfew in order to be able to regain a degree of control, after incidents of arson, looting, and overall rioting plagued the weekend.

But while fires burned, and police were occupied, murder was taking place within the city.

On May 31stpolice say that an 18-year-old girl was fatally shot in the head at approximately 10:51 p.m. along the 4200 block of West Van Buren Street.

A few hours prior on the same day, a man was also shot on the West Side in the Austin neighborhood. The 27-year-old male victim was said to have died after sustaining a gunshot wound to the leg.

At around 8:00 p.m. on the 31st, a man was shot several times in the head and body while driving within the 900 block of East 93rd Street.

Police pronounced him dead at the scene. Another man was killed while in his vehicle at around 6:43 p.m. in the 4600 block of South Marshfield Avenue.

An 18-year-old male victim was dropped off outside of Stroger Hospital after reportedly being shot at about 3:20 p.m. on the 31st.

He was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital. Just one hour prior, another gunshot wound victim was dropped off outside of a West Side hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Shortly before 2:00 p.m. on the 31st, police were notified about a deceased male found in East Garfield Park. Authorities noted that he suffered several gunshot wounds, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ten minutes before the body was discovered in East Garfield Park, two men were killed in a drive-by on the 1600 block of East 95th Street.

Police also were alerted to a deceased 37-year-old male found shot to death in Marquette Park a few minutes past 10:00 a.m. that morning.

Two other drive-by shootings that took place on North Mason Avenue and South Laflin Street resulted in two other gunshot wound deaths.

Those 12 fatal shootings were only on Sunday the 31st, whereas the other deaths happened between the 29th and the 30th.

Six individuals were reported as being gunned down on Saturday the 30th.

Police have since been able to identify those murdered that day, which were 26-year-old Bernardino Mercado, 34-year-old Fernando De Leon, 26-year-old Noel Dominguez, 39-year-old David L. Green, 21-year-old Gregory A. Lewis, and 30-year-old Danyal P. Jones.

On May 29th, the first recorded murder from the explosively violent weekend was 23-year-old Deonte Fleming. In that case, police say that the victim was shot in both the chest and side from someone inside of a vehicle on the 1200 block of West 70th Street.

Some online have been relaying critical comments of what’s actively playing out in Chicago. One Twitter user wrote:

“82 people shot in Chicago this weekend with 19 deaths. Most of them black men on the south and west side. Fuckin war zone against each other and against the police. This is disgusting.”

Of all the non-fatal shootings that happened over the weekend in Chicago, at least one has been attributed to the riots that took over the city. On May 29th, a male was shot in the arm while allegedly protecting the Binny’s Beverage Depot from potential rioters and looters.

Considering that this happened to be Chicago’s most violent weekend to date as the riots distracted policing resources, it wouldn’t be crazy to draw a correlation between the two elements.

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