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Upstate New York Woman Gets Steep Prison Sentence for Throwing Molotov Cocktail at NYPD Van During Anti-Racism Protests


Samantha Shader appears in a mugshot

An upstate New York woman was just sentenced to several years in prison after trying to firebomb a van full of NYPD officers in 2020.

Samantha Shader, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of using an improvised incendiary device in April of this year.

She was previously charged with seven different criminal counts – and pleaded not guilty during her arraignment in June 2020, according to a courtroom report by the New York Daily News. The defendant faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted as originally charged.

On Tuesday, in a Brooklyn federal court, Shader was sentenced to 72 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Dora L. Irizarry.

As Law&Crime previously reported, Shader was among several individuals charged with using various iterations of homemade explosive devices – commonly known as “Molotov cocktails” – against the NYPD and their vehicles during Black Lives Matter protests in New York City during the summer of 2020, after George Floyd was murdered by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department.

In Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, Shader threw a Molotov cocktail at a police van occupied by four officers. The shocking incident was caught on a decidedly blurry video.

No one was injured in the attack.

In response to a separate Molotov cocktail incident involving an empty NYPD squad car, attorneys Colinford Mattis, 34, and Urooj Rahman, 33, were charged with one count each of causing damage by fire and explosives. Both originally pleaded to possession of an unregistered destructive device in October 2021 but later pleaded to even lesser conspiracy charges in June of this year. The two lawyers face a maximum sentence of 18 to 24 months in prison.

As she threw the Molotov cocktail, Shader called out to the protesters around the van to “get out of the motherfucking way.” It struck the NYPD van, ultimately shattering two of its windows, but did not break and ignite. She initially attempted to evade arrest by biting an NYPD officer on the leg. The defendant’s younger sister was also booked on suspicion of resisting arrest.

According to the Daily News, Shader initially falsely told law enforcement that she was handed the Molotov cocktail by a Black demonstrator who she identified as a “thicker” man “with skinny ” dreadlocks, as well as a second Black man and woman.

The defendant originally said she didn’t know those three Black individuals but “felt important at the time she took the bottle because she was the only white person in the area,” according to court documents cited by the New York tabloid.

An accomplice, Timothy Amerman, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit civil disorder in March 2021 for supplying Shader with several glass bottles he thought would be used as projectiles during the protests.

“The constitutionally protected right to peaceful protest is a core democratic value. Over the course of this nation’s history, protests have led to significant positive changes. But, throwing a potentially lethal device at an NYPD van occupied by four officers during a protest was an unacceptable and dangerous act, which put the officers and others present at risk,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said after the sentencing. “This Office is committed to holding accountable those who, like this defendant, commit crimes that endanger the community and the lives of the dedicated officers of the NYPD.”

[image via NYPD handout]

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