NEW YORK – An attorney who was educated at Princeton University before attending New York University Law School assisted another lawyer hurl a Molotov cocktail at a New York City patrol car in the name of racial justice. As a result, he has been sentenced to spend a year and a day behind bars, according to Law&Crime.
The Ivy League graduate Colinford Mattis, 35, had been an associate lawyer at Pryor Cashman when nationwide protests raged in 2020 in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. His co-defendant, Urooj Rahman, received a 15-month sentence in November, Law Officer reported.
In October 2021, both attorney’s pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn to a single count of possessing or making a destructive device. They were originally scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 8, 2022. They had an exposure of up to 10 years in prison under a terrorism-related provision, but that was negated, apparently due to negotiations.
On May 30, 2020, Rahman, 33, threw a gasoline-filled bottle into an unoccupied police vehicle, attempted to distribute Molotov cocktails to others, and then fled in a minivan driven by Mattis, prosecutors asserted while laying out the case, Law Officer previously reported.
Prosecutors presented evidence showing the two communicated about taking action as riots erupted in Minneapolis and the city’s Third Precinct Stationhouse was burning May 29, 2020.
“Mattis and Rahman used a separate group chat to discuss the use of weapons and violence to pursue social change,” the government’s sentencing memo states. “In their discussion, Rahman expressed the view that ‘all the police stations’ and ‘probably all the courts’ ‘need[ed]’ to be burned down.”
Similar dialogue followed as the pair repeatedly disparaged members of law enforcement in group chats, writing “F— 12” and calling officers “pigs,” according to Law&Crime.
Late that evening, Mattis picked up gas from a Mobil service station. They met at a 7-11 market shortly before midnight, where they purchased glass Bud Light beer bottles and toilet paper for makeshift Molotov cocktails.
The duo drove to NYPD’s 88th Precinct Stationhouse, where Rahman ignited and tossed the homemade incendiary device through the smashed window of the unoccupied NYPD sedan around 1 a.m. on May 30, 2020. Mattis was the getaway driver, prosecutors said.
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan rejected a request for a non-custodial sentence, ordering Mattis to report to prison on March 8. He was also ordered to pay $30,137 to the NYPD to compensate them for the torched vehicle. His sentence will be followed by a year of supervised release.
Rahman previously worked as a public interest lawyer representing tenants in the Bronx.
During her sentencing hearing in November, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan praised her for choosing a career in public interest law to fight against social injustices after the defendant apologized to the court for her actions, WTOP reported.
“You’re a remarkable person who did a terrible thing on one night,” Cogan noted.
However, the judge also scolded her for thinking she could get away with the violent act as a form of protest.
“It displays an amazing amount of arrogance. … It’s just a very arrogant way to think,” he said, as he dispensed a 15 month sentence.
Both attorneys have been disbarred.