A woman has been sentenced to six years in prison after throwing a Molotov cocktail at a NYPD van during riots in New York


NEW YORK, NY – A woman who participated in a riot in New York has been convicted after throwing a Molotov cocktail at a New York Police Department van which happened to have four officers inside. The woman was given a six-year sentence in prison.

After the video of George Floyd’s death went viral, the public became enraged and some took to the streets to express that anger through protests and riots that swept mainly large metropolitan areas. During those protests and riots, it became commonplace to attack law enforcement merely because they were police officers.

One of the many people involved in one of the riots in May of 2020, 29-year-old Samantha Shader, was arrested after throwing a Molotov cocktail at a marked New York Police van which was occupied by four police officers. The explosive device that Shader was convicted of throwing broke the two rear windows of the van but thankfully did not ignite because she used toilet paper instead of a rag as a fuse.

After her arrest, Shader pled guilty to arson and claimed that she did not know that there were any officers in the van when she threw the explosive device. During her plea hearing, she said:

“I then threw the bottle at a parked New York City Police Department vehicle. I did so recklessly and with willful disregard of the possibility that damage could result.”

According to Shader’s attorney, Amanda David, her client had no intent to harm anyone, and her judgment was impaired by alcohol and drugs and did not know the van was occupied by four NYPD officers, therefore, she should only be sentenced to five years.

David’s claim that Shader seemingly only wanted to burn the NYPD van and endanger anyone around it, Brooklyn Federal Judge Dora Irizarry shut her down by saying:

“That’s a legal defense. Diminished [mental] capacity is a legal defense. That’s exactly what you were arguing…You can’t speak out of both sides of your mouth.”


David went on to argue why Shader should receive five years by reporting that she had received 70 hours of mental treatments while being held before her trial, something that seemingly angered the federal judge who alleged that people of color do not get that same treatment. Federal Judge Irizarry asked David why Shader seemingly got preferential treatment. When David did not answer the judge’s question directly, she said:

“You’re not answering my question. You can continue because I don’t expect you to.”

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Jonathan Algor argued to the federal judge that Shader should be sentenced to seven years for her attack on the officers. Algor requested the sentence because he believed Shader knew exactly what she was doing and she intended to “raise some hell.”

Before Federal Judge Irizarry issued the sentence, Shader took the time to apologize for her attempt at blowing up the NYPD van. She said:

“I’m sorry for what I did. What I did was wrong and disrespectful. I’m truly sorry.”

After all sides were heard, the federal judge ordered Shader to serve a six-year sentence. Breon Peace, the United States Attorney for the District of New York weighed in on the arrest and conviction of Shader in a statement:

“The constitutionally protected right to a peaceful protest is a core democratic value. Over the course of this nation’s history, protests have led to significant positive changes.

“But throwing a potentially lethal device at an NYPD van occupied by four officers during a protest was an unacceptable and dangerous act, which put the officers and others present at risk. This Office is committed to holding accountable those who, like this defendant, commit crimes that endanger the community and the lives of the dedicated officers of the NYPD.”

Another person who was accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail, attorney Urooj Rahman, plead guilty to firebombing for throwing the explosive device into an empty police van in Brooklyn. A second attorney, Colinford Mattis, plead guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and possession of an explosive device in June of this year.

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