A traffic stop in East Flatbush turned violent on Saturday morning when a 44-year-old suspect tossed a liquid “chemical” substance at uniformed police officers, before fleeing the scene and hurling a lit Molotov cocktail at other officers just minutes later.
The altercation started when NYPD patrolmen pulled over Connecticut-resident Lionel Virgile’s silver Lincoln Town Car near Clarendon Road and E. 45th Street after he allegedly ran a light at around 8 am.
After the officer approached the car, the suspect opened the driver-side door of the vehicle and doused the officer in an unknown substance, according to video posted on Twitter by the NYPD’s official account
Today, a vehicle stop for running a red light proved once again that no traffic enforcement is “routine.” When approached, the driver doused a cop with a chemical before fleeing, tossing a Molotov cocktail — and finally being arrested. Fortunately, our officers weren’t injured. pic.twitter.com/WBDt89b7F6
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) April 17, 2021
After the publicly-released video ends, police say the suspect got back in the car and fled the scene.
Just a short while later, according to a Police Department spokesperson, different officers pulled over the suspect near Snyder Avenue and E. 55th Street, when he allegedly flung a lit Molotov cocktail at their NYPD vehicle. The object hit the car’s windshield, before falling to the ground and shattering, cops said.
Following the alleged attack, the suspect again hopped back into his car and sped off — although he quickly crashed into an unoccupied SUV and came to a stop.
Paramedics arrived on the scene and took one officer to a nearby hospital with minor injuries to his face and blurred vision, according to authorities.
Federal authorities charged the suspect with “Attempted arson of an NYPD vehicle.” News 4 New York also reported that investigators are looking at possible charges of attempted murder, and that the suspect may have pre-planned the encounter.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former cop and a candidate for mayor, blasted the incident, and lamented the dangers that officers face while patrolling the streets.
“NYPD officers face dangerous circumstances every day in the course of doing their job. When you attack a police officer, you are attacking the symbol of public safety,” Adams said in a statement. “Yesterday, a man threw a chemical in an officer’s face and a Molotov cocktail at a squad car in Brooklyn during a traffic stop. I am thankful that these officers are safe, and that this dangerous individual was arrested.”
The alleged attack comes as demonstrators around the country have been marching in the streets to protest police violence after a number of recent incidents — including when a Minnesota cop shot Daunte Wright after mistaking her gun for a taser during a traffic stop, and 13-year-old Adam Toledo died after an officer shot him in Chicago while he held his hands in the air.
This story has been updated to include the current charges against the defendant.