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Two indictments were returned yesterday in federal court in Central Islip, New York, charging Samantha Shader, and co-defendants Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman in connection with their alleged attempts to use improvised incendiary devices, commonly known as “Molotov Cocktails,” to damage and destroy New York City Police Department vehicles during protests this past month.
The seven-count indictments each charge the defendants with the 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.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.
“Amid largely peaceful demonstrations taking place on the night of May 29, 2020, these defendants allegedly hurled Molotov Cocktails at NYPD vehicles without regard for the potentially deadly consequences,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Such criminal acts should never be confused with legitimate protest. Those who carry out attacks on NYPD Officers or vehicles are not protesters, they are criminals, and they will be treated as such.”
“A little more than a week after their arrests, Shader, Mattis, and Rahman have been charged with seven-count indictments in response to their potentially deadly attacks. Their criminal behavior risked lives, destroyed equipment that exists to serve the community, siphoned response resources, and created a threat to those who had every right to safely assemble and express their opinion,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“Violence, like that alleged here, not only endangers our NYPD officers but threatens the constitutional right of people to peacefully protest. These indictments by our federal partners reflect our joint condemnation of the kind of isolated acts a just society can never tolerate,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
As detailed in court filings in the case against Mattis and Rahman, an NYPD surveillance camera recorded Rahman tossing a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle parked near the 88th Precinct in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, then fleeing in a tan minivan. Police Officers pursued the minivan and arrested Rahman and Mattis, who was the vehicle’s driver. In the vehicle, the NYPD found several component items for Molotov Cocktails, including a lighter, a bottle filled with liquid suspected to be gasoline and toilet paper, additional bottles and toilet paper, and a gasoline canister.
As detailed in court filings in the case against Shader, a video recorded by a witness captured her igniting a Molotov cocktail and throwing it at an NYPD vehicle occupied by four police officers, shattering two of its windows. Police officers pursued Shader as she attempted to flee and apprehended her at the scene.
The charges in the indictments are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted on all counts, the defendants face sentences of up to life imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Ian C. Richardson and Jonathan Algor are in charge of the prosecution.
Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-203 (BMC)
Catskill, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-202 (DLI)
United States Attorney’s Office