Edmonds man sentenced for throwing Molotov cocktail at Seattle police cars
An Edmonds man was sentenced to 40 months in prison and three years of supervised release for using Molotov cocktails to burn two police vehicles in downtown Seattle on May 30, 2020.
Kelly Thomas Jackson, 21, was arrested in September after he was identified by an anonymous tip for his role in the protest-turned-riot. He was spotted in various videos wearing distinctive clothing and using glass containers with flammable material and a wick. Other videos show him traveling into Seattle with at least one Molotov cocktail. Another video shows him throwing the device into a police vehicle, hiding in a crowd, and jumping up and down with excitement. And yet another video shows him throwing a second device at a windshield of a police vehicle, but it bounced off and exploded into flames outside the Nordstrom store.
Cell phone records placed Jackson in the area at the time of the burning cars, and internet activity showed he accessed information on how to build Molotov cocktails.
Jackson pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a destructive device on January 6.
“The public’s right to peacefully protest has been repeatedly violated by people doing criminal things,” Judge Robart said at the sentencing hearing.
Robart said that throwing a Molotov cocktail at police cars full of gasoline and potentially weapons was very dangerous to people in the area.
“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,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa Gorman. “The danger to others is captured in pictures from the scene: flames from the burning car 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.”
“Jackson clearly planned not to come and peacefully protest, but to come and perpetrate criminal acts,” said ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “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.”