Cedar Park Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Possession of Unregistered Destructive Device During Austin Protest

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AUSTIN – A Cedar Park man was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison today for possessing parts of a destructive device, a Molotov cocktail, with the intent to construct such a device during an evening protest in Austin on May 30, 2020.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Cyril Lartigue, 27, was caught on videotape manufacturing a destructive device while in a parking lot directly adjacent to the Austin Municipal Court entrance.  While making the device, Lartigue was interrupted by the oncoming presence of Austin Police Department officers heading in his direction.  Lartigue fled the area, leaving the device behind, but returned within minutes to retrieve it.  Police officers later arrested Lartigue inside a nearby portable toilet where he had changed clothes.  Inside his backpack officers recovered materials used to manufacture a destructive device, including beer bottles, a bottle with lighter fluid, cloth rags, and a butane lighter along with the clothes he was previously wearing. 

Lartigue was convicted following a jury trial in October 2021.

“The sentence imposed today demonstrates our office’s commitment to the prosecution of violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff.  “Peaceful protest cannot and must not be conflated with violence and the construction of dangerous weapons like Molotov cocktails. The prosecution and sentence in this case should serve as a deterrent to those considering similar acts in the future.”

“Our constitutional right to peacefully protest is sacrosanct and must be protected,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred J. Milanowski.  “People like the defendant who bring illegal and dangerous weapons to a protest should be prosecuted to protect and preserve that right for us all. I want to thank the jury for listening to all the evidence and sending the message that taking dangerous and destructive devices to protests will not be tolerated.”

The ATF, Austin Police Department, Austin Fire Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety investigated this matter.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Keith Henneke and Gabriel Cohen are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.