Man Who Set Two Cop Cars Ablaze During Seattle Riots Gets More Than Three Years In Prison

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

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A 21-year-old man from Washington who torched two Seattle Police Department vehicles during a riot was sentenced to 40 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday.

Kelly Thomas Jackson was arrested in September after authorities identified him as the individual who used Molotov cocktails filled with gasoline to “burn two Seattle Police vehicles” during a violent protest May 30, according to the DOJ.

“The public’s right to peacefully protest has been repeatedly violated by people doing criminal things,” U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said.

Police analyzed cell phone records, which pinned Jackson in the area at the time of the fires, according to the DOJ. Law enforcement officials also obtained a video showing Jackson “traveling into Seattle with at least one of the glass bottles with a wick,” according to the DOJ. Other video allegedly shows him throwing the Molotov cocktail into a police car and then “jumping up and down with excitement after his crime.” (RELATED: REPORT: Apple Helped FBI Track Down Protester Accused Of Firebombing Cop Cars)

Authorities also say they determined Jackson researched how to make a Molotov cocktail by going through his internet activity.

Jackson pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to two counts of possession of a destructive device.

“Unlike the vast majority of demonstrators who came to downtown Seattle to protest peacefully against systemic racism, this defendant came armed with Molotov cocktails – intent on dangerous destruction,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said. “The danger to others is captured in pictures from the scene: flames from the burning cars and burning gasoline spread across the sidewalk, pollutant-filled smoke billowing into the crowd. This isn’t free speech – it is criminal conduct deserving of a federal prison sentence.”

Molotov cocktails were frequently used throughout riots in Seattle, according to authorities. Members of a crowd threw Molotov cocktails at Seattle’s East Precinct building in early September during a protest, police said.

The crowd also tossed trash bags filled with garbage at the station. Police later confirmed they had recovered Molotov cocktails outside the department’s union building just days later.