Posted on June 1, 2020

Two Lawyers Arrested in Molotov Cocktail Attack on Police in Brooklyn

William K. Rashbaum and Andrea Salcedo, New York Times, May 31, 2020

Two lawyers were charged with taking part in a Molotov cocktail attack on a police patrol car over the weekend — a human rights lawyer and a Princeton-educated associate at a Manhattan law firm.

The attack during the Brooklyn protests left the dashboard of a blue-and-white police car charred after a night of violent clashes between protesters and police. {snip}

The car was unoccupied when the Molotov cocktail ignited, and no one was injured, the authorities said.

The two lawyers involved in the attack were identified by federal authorities as Urooj Rahman, 31, the human rights lawyer, and Colinford King Mattis, 32, an associate at the midsize law firm of Pryor Cashman LLP, who graduated from Princeton.

Both were arrested shortly after the incident early Saturday during protests against the killing of George Floyd, federal authorities said.

Mr. Mattis and Ms. Rahman were charged with causing damage to a police vehicle by fire and explosives, according to a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn prosecutors on Saturday also charged a 27-year-old woman from Catskill, N.Y., in a separate Molotov cocktail attack against another police vehicle, about 10 minutes later and a mile and a half away.


Police video surveillance near the 88th Precinct station house in the Fort Greene neighborhood captured the attack in which they are charged, according to the criminal complaint filed in their case.

The video showed Ms. Rahman climbing out of a tan 2015 Chrysler Town and Country minivan driven by Mr. Mattis and moving toward the patrol car, the complaint said.

As she neared, she lit a fuse hanging out of a Bud Light beer bottle and threw it through an already broken window of the police vehicle, igniting its console. The complaint said she returned to the minivan and the pair fled.

The police saw Ms. Rahman throw the Molotov cocktail and followed the two lawyers as they tried to get away, officials said. A patrol car stopped them several blocks away and they were arrested.

Inside the car, officers said they saw in plain view materials for making more Molotov cocktails — a bottle filled with toilet paper and what was believed to be gasoline inside and a lighter, the complaint said.


In the second attack, in Crown Heights, Samantha Shader threw a Molotov cocktail at a marked police van near Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue, federal authorities charged.

Four officers were sitting inside but managed to scramble out, according to the criminal complaint in that case, and were not injured. The fuse had been lit, but the gasoline did not ignite.