Brooklyn Attorneys weigh plea deal in NYPD firebombing case


NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors told a judge Thursday they have offered a plea deal to two Brooklyn attorneys charged with firebombing an empty police vehicle last year amid demonstrations in New York City following the death of George Floyd.


U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan set a 90-day deadline for lawyers for Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman to accept the government’s offer or proceed to trial on charges, including arson conspiracy, that could land them in prison for nearly 50 years.


The U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn and defense attorneys for both lawyers declined to comment on the plea negotiations, which have been ongoing for several weeks.

“This isn’t a case that developed over a period of years — it happened in one night,” Cogan said during a brief court hearing in Brooklyn federal court. “People ought to be able to work it out.”


Mattis, a corporate attorney, and Rahman, a human rights lawyer, are accused of torching a New York City Police Department vehicle in May after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck in Minnesota for several minutes even after he stopped moving. The officer, Derek Chauvin, is on trial in Floyd’s death.


Surveillance cameras recorded Rahman hurling what prosecutors described as a Molotov cocktail into the vehicle, setting fire to its console near an NYPD station house.

Officers later arrested the lawyers and said they found a lighter, a beer bottle filled with toilet paper, and a gasoline tank in the back of a minivan driven by Mattis. Prosecutors allege the lawyers planned to distribute and throw other Molotov cocktails. The attorneys are due back July 1 in Brooklyn federal court.


Federal authorities brought similar charges against Samantha Shader, a 27-year-old from Catskill, New York, accused of firebombing an NYPD vehicle occupied by four officers. That firebomb shattered two windows of the vehicle but did not seriously injure the officers, authorities said.

Her lawyer, Sam Jacobson, didn’t comment on the charges but expressed concern about Shader’s medical condition, saying she had not yet been treated for injuries she received during her arrest.

Prosecutors said Shader is unemployed and has “traveled the country committing various crimes,” including arrests in 11 different states since 2011. They said Shader admitted throwing the firebomb and biting a responding officer on the leg.


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