Three days after George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis last year, the city’s Third Precinct police building was set on fire. Thousands of protesters surrounded the building as it burned, sending giant orange flames and tall black clouds of smoke into the sky.
On Wednesday, a 23-year-old man was sentenced to four years in prison and two years of supervised release for his role in setting the fire, federal prosecutors announced.
The man, Dylan Shakespeare Robinson of Brainerd, Minn., about 120 miles north of Minneapolis, was also ordered to pay $12 million in restitution. Mr. Robinson pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to commit arson. Three other men who also pleaded guilty to participating in the burning of the police building will be sentenced at a later date, according to the office of Anders Folk, acting U.S. attorney in the District of Minnesota.
William J. Mauzy, a lawyer for Mr. Robinson, said he was disappointed at the sentence his client received, considering the circumstances surrounding that fire. “He is bearing the sentence for the other thousand people who participated,” Mr. Mauzy said in an interview Wednesday night. “Many others, far more culpable than Mr. Robinson, were not identified. He had no role in throwing any Molotov cocktails or constructing any or building any.”
Mr. Mauzy said he expected the other defendants, whom he is not representing, to be sentenced to pay a portion of that restitution. “There is no realistic chance that he is going to pay anything but a minuscule amount toward that,” Mr. Mauzy said. “None of the defendants have an ability to pay a significant sum.”
Federal officials said in a criminal complaint last year, that in surveillance video at the precinct house, Mr. Robinson “appears to light an incendiary device” held by another person, who later throws it at the building. Mr. Robinson was also captured on video setting a fire inside the police station, near a first floor stairwell, according to the complaint.
Other evidence cited in the complaint came from a Snapchat account that federal officials said was used by Mr. Robinson. In one video from that account that night, “an unidentified female voice can be heard saying ‘Dylan,’” the complaint said. Later, that Snapchat account typed a message in the comments section of a video: “We need gasoline.”
Mr. Mauzy said officials later identified nearly four dozen separate places of origin for the fire that engulfed the station. “That’s a lot of different people setting fires at various spots in a police station,” he said. “Mr. Robinson was unfortunately one of the few who was captured on video and identified.”