Federal prosecutors said the Molotov cocktails posed a huge danger to the hundreds of people protesting in the area following the death of George Floyd.
A man was sentenced to 40 months in prison Monday for using Molotov cocktails to burn two Seattle police vehicles during protests following the death of George Floyd last May, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Kelly Thomas Jackson, 21, of Edmonds, Washington, was arrested in September and pleaded guilty in January to two counts of possession of a destructive device. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following his prison sentence.
Jackson was identified by an anonymous tipster as a man caught on video “using glass containers with a flammable material and a wick to burn or attempt to burn two police vehicles” on May 30, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.
One video showed Jackson throwing the device and “then hiding himself in the crowd and jumping up and down with excitement after his crime,” the statement said. Another video showed a Molotov cocktail that Jackson threw at a police vehicle had bounced off and exploded into flames on the sidewalk outside a Nordstrom store.
Additional videos showed Jackson traveling to Seattle with at least one glass bottle with a wick, and cellphone records put Jackson in the area of the protests at the time of the fires.
Jackson’s internet activity showed he had looked up how to make Molotov cocktails, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors noted the danger to “hundreds of people who were standing in the vicinity of the police cars that Jackson attacked.”
During sentencing, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart added that throwing a Molotov cocktail at police cars loaded with gasoline posed a huge danger to those in the area.
“Jackson clearly planned not to come and peacefully protest, but to come and perpetrate criminal acts,” ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson said. “We respect everyone’s right to free speech, but free speech does not come in the form of a Molotov cocktail. His premeditated actions and complete disregard for the safety of those around him warrant this sentence.”