Seattle, WA – A rioter convicted of torching Seattle police vehicles during a violent uprising last year has been sentenced to three years in federal prison.
According to court records, 21-year-old Kelly Jackson used Molotov cocktails in an attempt to set two patrol vehicles ablaze during a riot in downtown Seattle on May 30, 2020, KIRO reported.
“Jackson clearly planned not to come and peacefully protest, but to come and perpetrate criminal acts,” Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan McPherson told the news outlet.
“We respect everyone’s right to free speech, but free speech does not come in the form of a Molotov cocktail,” Agent McPherson added. “His premeditated actions and complete disregard for the safety of those around him warrant this sentence.”
Jackson was identified after investigators received an anonymous tip implicating him.
Police checked his cellphone records and confirmed he had been in the area when the arsons occurred, KIRO reported.
While combing through his online activity, they discovered Jackson had been researching how to construct Molotov cocktails, according to prosecutors.
Investigators said video footage captured him heading into Seattle with at least one such explosive device.
“Other videos show Jackson throwing one Molotov cocktail into a police vehicle, then hiding himself in the crowd and jumping up and down with excitement after his crime,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington said in a news release, according to KIRO.
“After the bottle entered (the vehicle), flames spread rapidly, almost instantaneously, through the passenger compartment,” court documents read, according to The Daily Herald.
Investigators said they located another video that showed Jackson hurling one of the Molotov cocktails at the windshield of a patrol car outside a Nordstrom store, KIRO reported.
It ended up bouncing off of the vehicle and burst into flames after exploding on the pavement.
“The danger to others is captured in pictures from the scene: flames from the burning car and burning gasoline spread across the sidewalk, pollutant-filled smoke billowing into the crowd,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa Gorman told the court, according to The Daily Herald. “This isn’t free speech — it is criminal conduct deserving of a federal prison sentence.”
Jackson was arrested in September of 2020 on two counts of possession of a destructive device, KIRO reported.
He pleaded guilty on Jan. 6.
“The public’s right to peacefully protest has been repeatedly violated by people doing criminal things,” U.S. District Court Judge James Robart said at the time of Jackson’s sentencing, according to The Daily Herald.
On Monday, the judge sentenced Jackson to 40 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, KIRO reported.