The woman who allegedly threw a lit Molotov cocktail into an NYPD car full of cops early Saturday has been slapped with a federal charge of damaging a police vehicle — a far cry from the attempted murder charges sought by the NYPD.
Samantha Shader, 27, of Catskill, New York, allegedly tossed the makeshift explosive into the marked police vehicle parked at Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn around 1:12 a.m, as a night of destructive protests over the killing of George Floyd winded down, federal prosecutors said.
The bottle shattered two of the vehicle’s windows as four cops sat inside — but the gas inside did not ignite, the feds said in a criminal complaint released early Sunday.
The complaint cites a single charge against Shader: Causing Damage by Fire and Explosives to a Police Vehicle.
Prosecutors obtained a witness video they said showed Shader hurl the device as a man attempted to shield her from onlookers.
Officers then pursued her as she attempted to flee and arrested her, prosecutors said.
“In a post-arrest statement, Shader later admitted to police that she had thrown the Molotov Cocktail at the NYPD vehicle,” prosecutors said.
The NYPD initially pressed for attempted-murder charges against the demonstrator — but federal prosecutors have now taken over the case and assumed custody.
Shader will be detained pending an initial court appearance on Monday. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn declined to comment early Sunday on whether she could face additional charges.
The feds also announced that two Brooklynites, Colinford Mattis, 32, and Urooj Rahman, 31, were also slapped with the same federal charge after allegedly tossing a Molotov cocktail at a parked, empty NYPD vehicle outside of the 88th Precinct in Fort Greene in a separate attack that came minutes earlier on Friday.
The pair were allegedly driving by the precinct in a tan minivan when they stopped to hurl the lit explosive through an already broken window of the vehicle, setting the car on fire, prosecutors said.
As Mattis manned the wheel, Rhaman hopped out of the car to toss the device in an attack that was caught by the precinct’s video surveillance cameras and witnessed by law enforcement officials at the scene.
The two then fled in their car, with police catching and apprehending them soon after near Pratt Institute, prosecutors said.
Officers later recovered several items used to construct explosive devices, including a lighter, toilet paper, and a liquid suspected to be gasoline near the passenger seat — as well a gasoline tank in the back of their vehicle, prosecutors said.
“These defendants are charged with attacking the New York City Police Department while its police officers are risking their lives to protect the Constitutional rights of protesters and the safety of us all,” stated United States Attorney Richard Donoghue.
“No rational human being can ever believe that hurling firebombs at Police Officers and vehicles is justified.
The Eastern District of New York will do everything in its power to protect those who protect us all,” he added, “and we will ensure that criminals who use the camouflage of lawful protest to launch violent attacks against Police Officers face justice.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. also warned that the consequences for attacking law enforcement would be “severe.”
“Behavior like the attacks charged here puts our entire community – protestors and first responders alike – in danger, and we will simply not allow it to go unaddressed,” Sweeney said in a statement. “The consequences for conducting this alleged attack, and any similar activity planned for the future, will be severe.”
If convicted of the charge, each of them faces up to 20 years behind bars with a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.