Home News Lawyer Colinford Mattis Accused in Molotov Cocktail Attack on Police

Lawyer Colinford Mattis Accused in Molotov Cocktail Attack on Police

William K. RashbaumAndrea Salcedo

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, a symbol of the chaos wrought over a weekend of sometimes peaceful and sometimes violent demonstrations.

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.

Mr. Mattis and Ms. Rahman were expected to appear on Monday before a federal magistrate in United States District Court in Brooklyn, and it could not be determined if they have lawyers representing them yet. A relative of Mr. Mattis who declined to be identified said, “He’s not a bad person and his family supports him.”

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.

Mr. Mattis began working in July 2018 as an associate in the corporate group at Pryor Cashman, where, according to his profile on the firm’s website, he advises public and private companies, their executives and boards on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, financing and corporate governance, among other matters.

He also served on the community board in East New York, the Brooklyn neighborhood where he lives.

Pryor Cashman, in a statement from Managing Partner Ronald H. Shechtman, said Mr. Mattis had been furloughed from the firm in April and that his status would be reviewed by the firm this week.

“As we confront critical issues around historic and ongoing racism and inequity in our society, I am saddened to see this young man allegedly involved in the worst kind of reaction to our shared outrage over what had occurred,” the statement said.

The picture on his LinkedIn profile shows a smiling young man in a business suit, white shirt and striped red tie, and the profile says he graduated from Princeton University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and earned a law degree from New York University Law School in 2016.

Ms. Rahman, a graduate of Fordham Law School, was identified as a human rights lawyer in a Facebook post about an April 30 talk she was scheduled to give to a Muslim group, where she was to discuss “Love of the Earth.”

The criminal complaint charging the lawyers, filed late Saturday in United States District Court in Brooklyn, was sworn out by an F.B.I. agent assigned to the Joint Terrorist Task Force.

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.

Ms. Shader, like the two lawyers, was charged with causing damage to a police vehicle by fire and explosives, according to the criminal complaint in her case. She was arrested shortly after the attack, the complaint said. Her sister, Darian Shader, 21, was also taken into custody after attempting to interfere with her arrest, the police said.

Relatives and friends of the Shader sisters could not be reached for comment.

In 2017, a local newspaper based in Kingston, N.Y., reported Samantha Shader, then 24, and an unidentified 18-year-old woman, both of Catskill, were arrested by state police in Ulster County. Ms. Shader was charged with assault and menacing with a weapon, the local paper reported. She was released with a desk appearance ticket.

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