During the George Floyd riots in 2020, a New York lawyer set fire to an NYPD vehicle with a Molotov cocktail and appealed for pity and a light sentence by blaming drink and “unprocessed trauma” for her actions.
In June, Urooj Rahman, 33, and Colinford Mattis, 35, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy counts related to the destruction, which carry a maximum five-year jail sentence.
In exchange for the plea, federal prosecutors agreed to suggest an 18 to 24 month jail term.
Rahman, who spent 28 days in a federal detention facility in Brooklyn before posting $250,000 in bond, is now attempting to have that sentence changed to time served.
According to court records, Rahman’s attorneys claimed on September 9 that Rahman was consuming vodka “on an empty stomach” and that she was “very inebriated” before they set the vehicle on fire.
‘Tossing the Molotov cocktail was a manner of expressing outrage at those police officers throughout the nation for whom black lives did not matter,’ lawyers stated in a brief to Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Brian M. Cogan. It was a protest gesture meant to shield others from danger.
According to lawyers, it wasn’t Rahman’s sole justification. She was enduring “early trauma” as a Muslim living in post-9/11 New York City, they said, as well as “abusive relationships” and “injustices she has experienced here and overseas.”
Among these were instances when Rahman assisted migrants in Greece and Turkey as well as low-income New Yorkers who were facing eviction.
However, in an interview conducted before the commotion, Rahman can be heard advocating for her cause while speaking properly and without any slurring.
When Rahman and Mattis were originally detained in 2020, they might have received a life sentence; however, that sentence was later lowered to 10 years in October of the same year, just before the plea.
The two were taken into custody on May 30, 2020, after protests that broke out after Floyd was killed by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin.
Rahman, a human rights attorney, was seen on tape throwing a molotov cocktail bomb into a parked police car and setting fire to its inside. The incident did not result in any injuries, but the car was badly harmed.
A short while later, police detained the attorneys after claiming to have discovered a lighter, a Bud Light beer bottle packed 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 launch further Molotov cocktails.
At the time of their arrest in 2020, Mattis and Rahman were initially facing a 40-year obligatory minimum count and life in prison.
After Mattis and Rahman each entered a guilty plea to one count of having and fabricating a destructive device at a federal court hearing in Brooklyn in October 2021, the government’s prosecution strategy changed to a 10-year sentence with a terrorist enhancement.
For the most of the last two years, the duo has been imprisoned at home.
Patrick J. Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, expressed fury upon learning of the reduced penalties for the attorneys and said that they would encourage “anti-police extremists.”
“This request must be denied by the court.” Lynch said on Fox News that there is “absolutely no basis” for reducing the punishment for a terrorist assault against police.
Lynch argued that it was already terrible enough that these dangerous felons had been let to remain at home for the previous two years.
Giving them a sentence that falls short of the standards will encourage other anti-police extremists who want to use violence to further their cause. This request must be denied by the court.
The revised plea agreement’s recommended sentencing guidelines were not binding on U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, but he indicated he would take them into consideration when he sentenced the two lawyers this autumn.