New York lawyers plead guilty to firebombing police car during George Floyd riots

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – Two attorneys arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails at NYPD vehicles during Black Lives Matter and Antifa riots in New York City in May 2020 each pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday.

Urooj Rahman, 32, and Colinford Mattis, 34, could get up to 10 years in prison at sentencing next year on a charge of possessing or making a destructive device.

They had faced a mandatory-minimum sentence of 45 years in prison if convicted at trial on seven counts, including six that will be dropped as a result of the plea.

 U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan set the sentencing for Feb. 8.

The federal government is pushing for the maximum sentence, arguing the judge should apply a “terrorism” enhancement to the penalty because what the attorneys allegedly did was intended to intimidate NYPD officers.

Judge Cogan stated:

“The terrorism enhancement is going to be a big issue. I have no idea where I’m going to come out on that.”

Defense Attorney Paul Schectman argued the defendants did not deserve prison for their actions:

“(Their behavior occurred) in the heat of the moment on one of the most heated nights in modern American history.”

In addition to prison time, both are “nearly certain to be disbarred,” the federal judge said.

During riots protesting the police killing of Floyd on May 30, 2020, Rahman tossed a Bud Light bottle filled with gasoline through a broken window of an NYPD vehicle parked outside the 88th Precinct, setting fire to the console. She then jumped into a van driven by Mattis, 34, and the pair sped off.

Surveillance cameras captured Rahman torching the police vehicle. No one was injured during the incident; however multiple people were injured during the rioting.

Police stopped the van nearby on Willoughby St. and found the makings of another Molotov cocktail in the back seat along with a gasoline container, according to authorities.

Prosecutors alleged the lawyers planned to distribute and throw other Molotov cocktails.

During the court hearing, prosecutors read text messages Mattis, an associate at Pryor Cashman, and Rahman, a public interest lawyer, exchanged the night of the riot.

U.S. Attorney Ian Richardson quoted one text message:

“I hope they burn everything down … Need to burn all the police stations down … probably all the courts too.”

In another message from Rahman to Mattis, Richardson read:

“Set a police car on fire after a lot of fights and check my story to see the trajectory of burning.”

In another text message, Rahman wrote to Mattis:

“Throwing bottles and tear gas… lit some fires but were put out… fireworks goin and Molotovs rollin.”

Mattis replied with his own text:

“Go burn down 1PP (NYPD headquarters at One Police Plaza).”

During their hearing, the two lawyers expressed regret for their actions. Rahman told the court:

“On May 30, 2020, I knowingly possessed a destructive device, a Molotov cocktail. My actions occurred on a night of civil protest in Brooklyn following the murder of George Floyd. I deeply regret my actions.”

Mattis expressed his own regret:

“On the night of May 30, 2020, I knowingly possessed a destructive device. I deeply regret my conduct and wish I had made better choices on that night.”

In July 2020 during a pre-trial hearing, government prosecutors made it clear the case was being taken as a serious matter, and was not simply two people caught up in a night of anger:

“This is not a case about youthful indiscretion or a crime of passion. It is about a calculated, dangerous crime committed by adults who risked the lives of innocent civilians and first responders, who had more Molotov cocktails ready…

“These were lawyers in particular who had every reason to know what they were doing was wrong and knew the consequences. Committing this crime required a fundamental change in mindset for them.”

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, Richard Donoghue, said in a statement when he announced the charges against the two attorneys:

“These defendants allegedly hurled Molotov cocktails at NYPD vehicles without regard for the potentially deadly consequences.

“Such criminal acts should never be confused with legitimate protest. Those who carry out attacks on NYPD officers or vehicles are criminals, and they will be treated as such.”

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Report: Lawyers charged in NYPD vehicle torching during Black Lives Matter protest offered plea deal

February 23, 2021

NEW YORK CITY, NY – The two lawyers who were indicted in relation to the torching of an NYPD van that occurred back on May 29th, 2020 have been reportedly offered a plea deal by federal prosecutors. 

It’s currently unclear what the schematics of this plea bargain are, nor is it clear if the defendants charged have accepted the deals presented. 

We at Law Enforcement Today have previously reported on the cases brought against Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis from the May 29th incident. 

Prosecutors allege that while riots and protests were ongoing outside of the 88 Precinct stationhouse, Rahman had allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD van that was reportedly unoccupied at the time. 

The second suspect, Mattis, had then allegedly served as the getaway driver for Rahman; allegedly driving the two away from the scene after the van was engulfed in flames. 

However, the two suspects were reportedly arrested shortly after the incident occurred. 

In the latest update relating to the cases against the two attorneys, there was reportedly a plea bargain offered to the two on February 11th by Brooklyn federal prosecutors.

The exact details of what was on the plea deals isn’t clear – as in how much time would be served by either of the defendants in the event they accepted the plea deal. 

When charges against the two were originally filed, both Rahman and Mattis were potentially facing up to life in prison if convicted of the seven-count indictments that included use of explosives, arson, use of explosives to commit a felony, arson conspiracy, use of a destructive device, civil disorder, and making or possessing a destructive device.

Reportedly, legal representation for the accused arsonists have yet to comment on the plea bargains as well. 
 

 

 

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