Molotov cocktail-tossing lawyer who torched NYPD car blames booze and ‘trauma’

A lawyer who torched an NYPD patrol car during the George Floyd riots is begging for a reduced sentence — whining that she was drunk and dealing with “unprocessed trauma” at the time, according to court documents.

Urooj Rahman, 33, who pleaded guilty last year to tossing a Molotov cocktail at an empty police van in Brooklyn and is facing 18 months to two years behind bars, is pushing to have her sentence commuted to time served.

She spent 28 days in a Brooklyn federal jail before posting $250,000 bail.

Her lawyers contended in a Sept. 9 court filing that Rahman had been downing vodka “on an empty stomach” and “became quite drunk” before she and fellow lawyer Colinford Mattis, 34, set the vehicle ablaze near the 88th Precinct stationhouse in Fort Greene on May 30, 2020.

“Tossing the Molotov cocktail was a way of expressing anger at those police officers around the country for whom black lives did not matter,” her lawyers wrote to Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Brian M. Cogan. “It was an act of protest intended to avoid exposing others to harm.”

A picture of Urooj Rahman.
Urooj Rahman, 33, is asking for a reduced sentence after torching an NYPD van during the 2020 George Floyd riots.
Loudlabs

Rahman’s lawyer rattled off a laundry list of excuses explaining her decision to chuck the explosive device. These included “early trauma” from being a Muslim in post-9/11 America; “abusive partnership relationships”; and “the injustices that she has witnessed here and abroad,” including assisting refugees in Istanbul and Athens and helping low-income tenants in New York avoid eviction.

But Rahman sounded sober in a video interview to Loudlabs News NYC about 45 minutes before the car was torched, defending the protesters and saying that “people are angry because the police are never held accountable.”

“This has got to stop. And the only way they hear, the only way they hear us is through violence, through the means that they use,” she said without slurring her words.

A picture of an NYPD police van on fire in Brooklyn.
“Tossing the Molotov cocktail was a way of expressing anger at those police officers around the country for whom black lives did not matter,” Rahman’s lawyers wrote to a Brooklyn Federal Court judge.

A picture of Rahman, alongside 21-year-old Matthew Piscitello, being arrested for this action.
Rahman, alongside 21-year-old Matthew Piscitello, was arrested for this action.

Rahman and Mattis pleaded guilty in October 2021 and faced up to 10 years in prison. Under a revised agreement reached in June, they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and to making and possessing an unregistered destructive device with prosecutors saying they would seek sentences of 18 months to 2 years in prison.

The incident was “a marked deviation from her otherwise exemplary life,” said Rahman’s attorneys, who noted she’s been in therapy and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings since the firebombing.

They also pointed out that another pair of arsonists who set an empty NYPD homeless outreach van on fire in July 2020 received a more lenient sentence.

A picture of Urooj Rahman.
Rahman said that she was drunk and was dealing with “unprocessed trauma” at the time of the incident.
JAlgor
A picture of Urooj Rahman in a car.
Rahman is facing 18 months to two years in jail.

Prosecutors rejected her excuses, telling the judge that Rahman should get a harsher sentence because the attack with Mattis happened in the middle of an active protest, and they made at least two explosives and offered one to a passerby to throw.

Mercy is not what Rahman deserves, said Patrick Lynch, head of the Police Benevolent Association.

“She remains committed to a violent anti-police ideology and continues to baselessly smear police officers in her bid for a lighter sentence,” he said. “She must receive the heaviest sentence the law allows.”

Rahman is due to be sentenced in November.

Additional reporting by Kathianne Boniello 

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