Three charged in connection with Molotov cocktail attacks on NYPD during Brooklyn protests

Protesters rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York
A NYPD police car is set on fire as protesters clash with police during a march against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd in Brooklyn.
REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Two Brooklyn residents and a Greene County resident were charged in connection with the use of Molotov cocktails — an improvised incendiary device — in an attempt to destroy NYPD vehicles during citywide protests early Saturday morning.

Brooklyn residents Colinford Mattis, 32, and Urooj Rahman, 31, were arrested in a van early Saturday morning while allegedly in possession of explosive device components that included a lighter, a bottle filled with toilet paper, and “a liquid suspected to be gasoline,” per the US Department of Justice’s statement. According to the Daily News, both Mattis and Rahman are lawyers, and the former is a member of Community Board 5 in East New York.

Their apprehension came just moments after Rahman threw a Molotov cocktail at an unoccupied NYPD vehicle near the 88th Precinct in Fort Greene.

Samantha Shader, 27, of Catskill, New York, also allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle that contained four police officers.

Shader was caught on video by a witness igniting a Molotov cocktail and throwing it at the police vehicle in the vicinity of Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, shattering two of its windows. After she was apprehended by the officers, she admitted to the act.

“When you conduct a violent attack that breaks federal law, the FBI New York office, along with our NYPD and Department of Justice partners, will move with speed to hold you accountable,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge, William F. Sweeney Jr., said. “Behavior like the attacks charged here puts our entire community — protestors and first responders alike — in danger, and we will simply not allow it to go unaddressed.”

Mattis, Rahman, and Shader’s actions came while New York City — and the United States — is in the throes of unrest following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25.

The event, caught on video, sparked protests across the nation in major cities like Minneapolis, New York, and Los Angeles. Some of those demonstrations descended into clashes with local police.

If convicted, the trio faces a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment.

“Molotov Cocktails are violent tools of individuals looking to inflict harm and damage our city,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “Crimes like these are devastating to their targets and also to the protestors and their right to free speech that police are working hard to protect…I’m confident that the severest penalties under the law will be sought.”

All three defendants will make a virtual court appearance on Monday.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.