Two New York lawyers who set fire to an NYPD van with a Molotov cocktail during the George Floyd protests in 2020 appeared before a Brooklyn court on Thursday to accept a plea deal that could dramatically reduce their sentences.
Colinford Mattis, 35, and Urooj Rahman, 33, have retracted previous pleas of guilty to illegal possession of Molotov cocktails and plead guilty to conspiracy charges carrying no more than five years in prison.
The couple initially faced life imprisonment when they were first arrested in 2020, which was then reduced to 10 years in October 2021.
Federal prosecutors agreed to recommend 18 to 24 months in prison in exchange for today’s plea.
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Urooj Rahman, 33, (left) walks out of Brooklyn federal court on Thursday after accepting a plea deal to set fire to an NYPD van during the 2020 George Floyd protests
Colinford Mattis, 35, (right) leaves Brooklyn federal court on Thursday after signing a plea deal to set fire to an NYPD van in 2020
Urooj Rahman grabbed a Molotov cocktail made from a Bud Light bottle the night she used a similar device to set fire to a NYPD van
The pair were arrested amid clashes between protesters and police on May 30, 2020, amid a burst of demonstrations following the murder of Floyd by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin.
Surveillance cameras filmed Rahman, a human rights lawyer, throwing a Molotov cocktail into a parked police vehicle and setting fire to the interior. No one was injured in the attack, but the car was badly damaged.
Officers arrested the lawyers a short time later, saying they found a lighter, a Bud Light beer bottle filled with toilet paper and a gas tank in the back of a minivan driven by Mattis, a corporate attorney. Prosecutors allege that the lawyers planned to disperse and throw other Molotov cocktails.
An NYPD van that was set on fire in Brooklyn during the May 2020 George Floyd protests. It’s not clear if it’s the same vehicle the lawyers hit with Molotovs
A burned-out NYPD van after the May 2020 protest. It’s not clear if it’s the same vehicle the lawyers hit with Molotovs
Urooj Rahman, (left) and Colinford Mattis (right) after their 2020 arrest for bombing an NYPD van during George Floyd protests in New York City
NYPD union boss Patrick Lynch, (center) has condemned Rahman and Mattis’ short sentences
Initially, Mattis and Rahman were looking at a mandatory minimum count of 40 years and life imprisonment when they were arrested in 2020.
The government’s prosecution plan then shifted to a 10-year sentence with terrorism amplification, based on an October 2021 federal court hearing in Brooklyn, where Mattis and Rahman each pleaded guilty to possessing and making a destructive device.
The couple have spent most of the past two years under house arrest.
News of the lawyers’ reduced sentences was met with outrage by Patrick J. Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, who said the light sentences will encourage “anti-police radicals.”
The judge must deny this request. There is absolutely no justification for lowering the penalty for a terrorist attack against the police,” Lynch told Fox News.
“It’s bad enough that these dangerous criminals have been allowed to sit at home for the past two years,” Lynch said.
“If we give them a punishment under the guidelines, other radicals against the police would be given the green light who want to advance their cause through violence. The judge must deny this request.’
U.S. district judge Brian Cogan said he was not bound by the sentencing recommendations under the new plea deal, but would consider them when he charges the two attorneys this fall.
Urooj Rahman will leave federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday. She agreed to a plea deal, with federal prosecutors agreeing to recommend an 18 to 24 month jail term
Colinford Mattis will leave federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday. He was driving the getaway car after he and Rahman threw a Molotov cocktail into an NYPD van