Alleged Molotov cocktail throwers arraigned before federal court in Brooklyn

Colinford Mattis (right) and Urooj Rahman. (Photos courtesy of the Eastern District of New York)


Two Brooklynites and one upstate New Yorker were arraigned in federal court on Monday for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at police cars in two separate incidents during protests against police brutality on May 30. 

Video from the scene apparently shows one of the arrested individuals, 27-year-old Catskill resident Samantha Shader, lighting a makeshift explosive and hurling towards an occupied police car — breaking its window, but not exploding, according to court documents.

Officers chased after Shader as she allegedly tried to flee the scene, before taking her into custody — where she later admitted to throwing the would-be fireball, according to prosecutors.

Shader, who has been arrested 11 times in 11 states for various acts of violence and resisting arrest, was charged with attempted murder and arraigned before Eatern District of New York Judge Steven Gold on June 1. She was not offered bail, and remains in federal custody. 

“It’s violent in nature,” U.S. Attorney Jonathan Algor said during the arraignment. “She’s throwing a Molotov cocktail at NYPD officers and with innocent bystanders there’s significant danger to the community. If the defendant were to be released, especially during these times, there’s no assurances that the community would be protected.”

A screencap from a video that purports to show Shader throwing a Molotov cocktail at an occupied police van.

Authorities also charged Urooj Rahman, a 31-year-old lawyer who works in Bronx housing court, and 32-year-old attorney Colinford Mattis, who serves on Brooklyn’s Community Board 5, for allegedly tossing a Molotov cocktail into an unoccupied police van that had already received extensive damage at the hands of other protesters. 

The pair were also arraigned on June 1 on charges of causing damage by fire and explosives to a police vehicle, according to court documents. 

Rahman, facing her first ever arrest, received a 250,000 bond with home detention and other conditions. Federal defenders argued Rahman posed no threat to the community and was needed to take care of her aging mother, who she lives with in a south Brooklyn apartment. 

“Her involvement in her mother’s life is so significant that she draws a stipend from a home health care organization to compensate her for the amount of time she spends with her mother,” Federal Defender Benjamin Yaster said in arguing for her bond package. “That creates an enormous incentive by itself for her to comply with any terms of release that this court imposes.”

Mattis also received a $250,000 bond with home detention and conditions. Lawyers for the government argued the court could not assume that Mattis was of sound mind. 

“Colinford Mattis has not demonstrated himself to be a rational person,” a lawyer for the government said. “He is a person with an extraordinary career that was just starting in the law, he attended prestigious universities… and yet he risked everything to drive around in a car with Molotov cocktails attacking police vehicles.” 

Federal authorities say they plan on appealing both decisions. 

This story first appeared on brooklynpaper.com.