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Lawyers charged with torching police car released on bail

July 1, 2020 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — Two Brooklyn lawyers have been released on bail pending their trial on federal charges of torching an empty police vehicle during a protest following the death of George Floyd.

Colinford Mattis, 32, and Urooj Rahman, 31, left the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday after an appeals court ruled 2-1 to release them to home confinement with electronic monitoring.

Prosecutors say Rahman threw what they described as a Molotov cocktail into a police vehicle during a May 30 protest. They said they found a lighter, a beer bottle filled with toilet paper and a gasoline tank in the back of a minivan driven by Mattis. No one was injured in the attack.

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Federal prosecutors had argued that “irreparable harm” would result if the attorneys were released before their trial on charges that could put them in prison for nearly 50 years.

But Judge Peter Hall of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that neither lawyer had a criminal record and both had deep ties to the community. “The conditions of release contain provisions that impede defendants’ ability to engage in criminal activity,” Hall wrote in the majority opinion.

Jon O. Newman dissented, saying that Rahman and Mattis “remain a risk to being provoked again to take additional dangerous actions” and that that risk “creates a danger to the community.”

The pair were released after they each posted $250,000 bond. Rahman’s lawyer, Paul Schectman, told the Daily News, “Urooj’s family and hundreds of supporters could not be more pleased with today’s decision that reunites her with her mother. It is the first step on the road to justice in this case.”