NEW YORK CITY, NY – Two criminal Complaints were filed Saturday evening in federal court in Brooklyn charging two women and a man with using and attempting to use improvised incendiary devices commonly known as “Molotov Cocktails” to damage and destroy New York City Police Department (NYPD) vehicles. Defendants Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, both residents of Brooklyn, were arrested in a van early Saturday morning while allegedly in possession of explosive device components shortly after Rahman hurled a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle before fleeing with Mattis. A separate complaint charges Samantha Shader, a resident of Catskill, New York, who was arrested after allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle occupied by four police officers. The defendants charged in each of the complaints will make their initial appearances via teleconference on Monday, June 1, 2020, before United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold.
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, NYPD, announced the arrests and charges.
“These defendants are charged with attacking the New York City Police Department while its Police Officers are risking their lives to protect the Constitutional rights of protesters and the safety of us all,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “No rational human being can ever believe that hurling firebombs at Police Officers and vehicles is justified. The Eastern District of New York will do everything in its power to protect those who protect us all, and we will ensure that criminals who use the camouflage of lawful protest to launch violent attacks against Police Officers face justice.”
“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. 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. The consequences for conducting this alleged attack, and any similar activity planned for the future, will be severe,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“Molotov Cocktails are violent tools of individuals looking to inflict harm and damage our city. 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. It is reassuring that the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn has taken this case. I’m confident that the severest penalties under the law will be sought,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
As detailed in the complaint charging Mattis and Rahman, an NYPD surveillance camera recorded Rahman tossing a Molotov Cocktail at an unoccupied NYPD vehicle parked near the 88th Precinct in Brooklyn, New York and then fleeing in a tan minivan. Officers pursued the minivan and arrested Rahman and Mattis, who was the vehicle’s driver. The NYPD recovered several precursor items used to build Molotov Cocktails, including a lighter, a bottle filled with toilet paper and a liquid suspected to be gasoline in the vicinity of the passenger seat and a gasoline tank in the rear of the vehicle.
As detailed in the complaint charging 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. In a post-arrest statement, Shader later admitted to police that she had thrown the Molotov Cocktail at the NYPD vehicle.
The charges in the Complaints are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, each defendant faces a mandatory-minimum sentence of 5 years and up to 20 years’ 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.