Urooj Rahman: Lawyer who threw Molotov cocktail at cops during protest wants lenient sentence as she was drunk

Urooj Rahman: Lawyer who threw Molotov cocktail at cops during protest wants lenient sentence as she was drunk
Urooj Rahman (L) was arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails at cop car during George Floyd protests in NYC (Eastern District of New York, Eyewitness News ABC7NY/ youtube video screengrab)

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: A New York lawyer who threw a Molotov cocktail on an NYPD car during the George Floyd protests in 2020 pleaded for sympathy and a light sentence, blaming her actions on "unprocessed trauma" and alcohol. In June, Colinford Mattis, 35, and human rights attorney Urooj Rahman, 33, entered guilty pleas to conspiracy charges related to the destruction, which carry a maximum five-year prison sentence. In exchange for the plea, federal prosecutors agreed to suggest an 18 to 24-month prison term. Rahman, who spent 28 days behind bars in a federal facility in Brooklyn before being released on $250,000 bail, is now attempting to have that sentence changed to time served. 

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According to court records, Rahman's attorneys claimed on September 9 that Rahman was consuming vodka "on an empty stomach" and that her state was described as "quite drunk" before they set the van on fire, as per New York Post. "Tossing the Molotov cocktail was a way of expressing anger at those police officers around the country for whom black lives did not matter," lawyers wrote in a filing to Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Brian M Cogan. The filing also says, "It was an act of protest intended to avoid exposing others to harm."

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Rahman was captured on surveillance video throwing a Molotov cocktail bomb into a stopped police car, setting fire to its interior. The attack did not result in any injuries, but the car was heavily hurt. A short while later, police detained the attorneys after claiming to have discovered a lighter, a Bud Light beer bottle filled with toilet paper, and an empty gas tank in the back of the minivan being driven by corporate attorney Mattis. According to the prosecution, the attorneys intended to distribute and throw additional Molotov cocktails.

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Colinford Mattis was arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails at cop car during George Floyd protests in NYC (Eastern District of New York)
Colinford Mattis was also arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails at cop car during George Floyd protests in NYC (Eastern District of New York)

At the time of their arrest in 2020, Mattis and Rahman were initially facing a 40-year mandatory minimum count and life in prison. After Mattis and Rahman each entered a guilty plea to one count of possessing and fabricating a destructive device in a federal court hearing in Brooklyn in October 2021, the government's prosecution strategy changed to a 10-year sentence with a terrorism enhancement. For the majority of the past two years, the pair has been home detained.

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Patrick J Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, expressed outrage when he heard of the lawyers' light sentences, claiming they would encourage "anti-police radicals." He said, "The judge must reject this request. There is absolutely no justification for lowballing the sentence for an anti-police terrorist attack. It's bad enough that these dangerous criminals have been allowed to sit at home for the past two years." He added, "Handing them a below-guidelines sentence would give a green light to other anti-police radicals who seek to advance their cause through violence. The judge must reject this request."

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Despite not being bound by the new plea agreement's sentencing recommendations, US District Judge Brian Cogan said he would take them into consideration when sentencing the two lawyers this autumn. 

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