Former Seattle Resident Sentenced to Prison for use of ‘Molotov Cocktail’ at May Day 2016 Protest
Defendant Prepared for Weeks and Made Inflammatory Comments on the Internet about Killing Police
A former Seattle resident was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 37 months in prison for unlawful possession of a destructive device, in particular, for making and throwing bottles filled with gasoline at police officers on May 1, 2016, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. WIL CASEY FLOYD, 33, of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, was arrested in April 2017, after a lengthy investigation that linked him to a so-called ‘Black Bloc’ of protestors who threw unlit incendiary devices at Seattle Police during a May Day protest. At the sentencing hearing Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said it was an extremely serious crime. “Throwing gasoline filled bottles during a protest – there are all sorts of people out there, old people, young people … it could have caused serious injury or death.”
“This prosecution sends a clear message – we will not tolerate attacks on the women and men in law enforcement who do the hard work of keeping us all safe,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “After all, the SPD officer who was injured by the defendant was protecting our cherished First Amendment rights. No matter the disguise – black bloc or otherwise – we will identify and hold to account those who cross the line from peaceful protest to criminal assault.”
According to the plea agreement and other records in the case, FLOYD went online to research building Molotov cocktails. He purchased the necessary supplies and constructed six of the explosive devices using beer bottles. He placed the bottles filled with gasoline in a black bag. FLOYD dressed in black, wore a black hood and a gas mask and joined the protest on the evening of May 1, 2016. FLOYD threw five of the unlit destructive devices at Seattle Police Officers. One of the Molotov cocktails thrown at police shattered at the feet of an officer and ignited his trousers when a flash-bang grenade went off. The officer suffered burns to his leg. FLOYD dropped the bag containing one remaining bottle of gasoline and changed his clothes and appearance before police could arrest him.
The investigation into FLOYD’s communications revealed that nearly two months prior to May Day, on March 8, 2016, Floyd sent a text message stating, “Kill them all with fire,” referring to SPD officers. Following the May Day attack FLOYD posted remarks online, ridiculing images of injured Seattle Police who were treated for injuries caused by “black bloc’ protestors.
In court today, FLOYD said that he had gone along with a group of people, and “realized it was a mistake, but there was no turning back… I never intended anyone to get hurt…. I’ll never do anything like this again.”
Chief Judge Martinez told FLOYD that “this country was founded by protest, it’s as American as apple pie… but there are limits, there are rules of law.” In addition to the prison time, Chief Judge Martinez imposed three years of supervised release following prison with 100 hours of community service to be completed during the first year of his release.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Seattle Police Department, both through its membership on the JTTF and with additional investigative groups.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Greenberg and Tom Woods.