Aurora, CO – An demonstrator who shot two people while trying to hit the driver of a Jeep that drove through a group of rioters as they were blocking the interstate during an anti-police protest in 2020 will not serve any time in prison.
Samuel Young, 24, was previously convicted in March on four counts of attempted manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, and one count of illegally discharging a gun in connection with the July 25, 2020 shooting, The Denver Post reported.
He faced up to 23 years in prison, according to KUSA.
The mob was blocking all lanes of Interstate 225 that day, The Denver Post reported.
A Jeep was trying to travel through the crowd when Young fired five rounds in the vehicle’s general direction.
Two bullets hit the back of the Jeep, The Denver Post reported.
Two other rounds struck nearby demonstrators.
One suffered a graze wound to the head, and another man, Joseph Sagrillo, was shot in the leg.
The driver of the Jeep immediately drove to a safe location and contacted police, The Denver Post reported.
The driver was not injured.
Then-District Attorney George Brauchler announced in September of 2020 that the driver would not be criminally charged because he had no warning that the mob would be blocking the roadway and because the group was on the interstate illegally, KUSA reported.
Prosecutors originally charged Young with attempted murder, but those counts were later reduced, according to KDVR.
Sagrillo testified during the sentencing hearing on May 17 that the bullet Young fired hit his femoral artery, resulting in a five-hour emergency surgical procedure, The Denver Post reported.
The shooting victim said he suffered severe emotional trauma as a result of the incident, but he still asked the court not to send Young to prison.
“His actions directly negatively impacted my life,” Sagrillo told the court. “Even as I consider the pain I’ve experienced, I’m here today to plead for leniency.”
“Sometimes forgiveness is what is needed to right a wrong and end a cycle of social harm,” he added.
Prosecutors urged the judge to sentence Young to six years in prison, in part to deter people from acting violently at future demonstrations, The Denver Post reported.
“There was no reason he should have been bringing a gun to a protest on the interstate and using it against motorists on a highway,” Assistant District Attorney Tom Byrnes told the court. “It was reckless, and we’re all grateful and lucky that there weren’t people killed that day.”
Young also testified during his sentencing hearing.
“It all happened so fast, there was no time to think, just to react,” he told the judge, according to The Denver Post. “My reaction was wrong… I cannot take bullets back. I immediately regretted what I’d done and wanted to repair the damage.”
Eighteenth Judicial District Judge Ben Leutwyler sentenced Young to 120 days in jail followed by a five-year stint on probation, The Denver Post reported.
He was given credit for 50 days he already spent in jail and was also ordered to pay restitution and to undergo chemical dependency and mental health treatment.
Young will serve no time in prison as a result of his seven felony convictions.
Leutwyler noted during the hearing that the only person who was legally on the interstate that day was the driver of the Jeep, KUSA reported.
He said he considered sentencing the gunman to prison, but that because of Young’s community service, lack of criminal history, the nationwide movement for social justice, and Young’s remorse about what occurred, he decided probation was more appropriate, The Denver Post reported.
“I’ve struggled since the day the jury returned their verdict,” Leutwyler said during the sentencing hearing last week. “This has been an unusual case… I all too often see folks who are repeat offenders. You have no criminal history. You are a young person, 24 years old, well-educated, you have a history of helping others, you’re needed at home. And you shot wholly indiscriminately into a crowd of hundreds of people.”