Gainesville men sentenced on federal arson charges for setting fire to police car parked at officer’s residence
GAINESVILLE, Ga. – Jesse James Smallwood, Delveccho Waller, Jr., Bruce Thompson, Judah Coleman Bailey, and Dashun Martin have been sentenced to prison for conspiring to commit arson of a City of Gainesville Police Department patrol vehicle.
“The defendants sought out and intentionally destroyed a police vehicle using the cover of legitimate peaceful protest,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “The criminal conduct of these defendants showed a reckless disregard for the safety of others.”
“The FBI Atlanta Field Office is committed to supporting our local and state law enforcement partners in an effort to maintain public safety in the communities we serve,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “We are not focused on peaceful protests, but instead concentrating on identifying, investigating and disrupting those individuals who are taking advantage of the protests to incite violence and engage in criminal activity.”
“We want our community to know we stand with them during their rights to peacefully protest. However, these defendants did not peacefully protest, rather, they took this opportunity to target one of our officers at his residence. This type of violence and destruction will not be tolerated in our community,” said Jay Parrish, Chief of Police, Gainesville Police Department.
According to U.S. Attorney Erskine, the federal charges, and other information: On the evening of June 1, 2020, the five defendants met in the parking lot of a pharmacy located near downtown Gainesville. The men were in the area to participate in a legitimate protest concerning the killing of George Floyd. Bailey brought a flare gun and cartridges to the pharmacy with him. While in the parking lot of the pharmacy, the five defendants discussed their knowledge of the location of a parked Gainesville Police Department patrol vehicle. They all agreed that they would drive to the location and someone would shoot the flare gun at the police car.
Smallwood drove the group to the apartment complex where the police car was parked. Upon arriving at the location, the defendants pulled masks and bandanas over their faces and left Smallwood’s car. Bailey approached the police vehicle and shot a flare inside the vehicle through the rear windshield, setting the vehicle on fire. The five defendants then fled the scene in Smallwood’s car. Shortly afterward, the group was arrested following a tip from a witness who saw the men and the vehicle they drove to go to and from the apartment complex.
U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones sentenced the defendants for the offense of conspiring to commit arson as follows:
- Smallwood, of Gainesville, Georgia, was sentenced on November 16, 2021, to one year, nine months of imprisonment; Smallwood pleaded guilty on September 29, 2021;
- Waller, Jr., 23, of Gainesville, Georgia, was sentenced on August 26, 2021, to one year, nine months of imprisonment; Waller, Jr. pleaded guilty on May 13, 2021;
- Bailey, 21, of Gainesville, Georgia, was sentenced on June 30, 2021, to one year, nine months of imprisonment; Bailey pleaded guilty on March 25, 2021;
- Martin, 24, of Gainesville, Georgia, was sentenced on November 15, 2021, to one year, five months of imprisonment; Martin pleaded guilty on November 4, 2021; and
- Thompson, 23, of Oakwood, Georgia, was sentenced on August 26, 2021, to just over one year, two months of imprisonment; Thompson pleaded guilty on May 10, 2021.
All the defendants were ordered to serve three years of supervised release following the completion of their prison terms. The men were also ordered to pay the Gainesville Police Department $3,678.17 in restitution.
The FBI-Gainesville Field Office, the Gainesville Police Department, and the Gainesville Fire Department investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Radics prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). In keeping with the Attorney General’s mission to reduce violent crime, the Northern District of Georgia’s PSN program focuses on prosecuting those individuals who most significantly drive violence in our communities, and supports and fosters partnerships between law enforcement and schools, the faith community, and local community leaders to prevent and deter future criminal conduct.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.