It was a mistake anyone could have made, really.
Bryce Michael Williams, 27, pleaded guilty to setting fire to a Minneapolis police station as part of the riots that sprung up across the country following the police-involved death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. On Monday, Williams was sentenced to two years and three months in prison for his crime. He was also ordered to pay $12 million in restitution for the damage, according to the Star Tribune.
U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz, while sentencing the social media influencer for the crime, referred to Williams as a “good person who made a terrible mistake.” Because of this, Schiltz indicated, Williams would receive a shorter jail sentence than recommended in federal guidelines and that was imposed on other defendants.
Williams, who taped himself rioting and posted it to social media, gaining more than 150,000 followers on TikTok, had requested probation for his role in setting fire to the police station. Schiltz denied the request, the New York Post reported, insisting Williams was a leader “not a follower” of the violent mob that torched the police station.
“Williams was among the hundreds of people who gathered outside the precinct on May 28, 2020, when he entered the building and lit a Molotov cocktail, which Davon De-Andre Turner used to start a fire,” the Post reported.
A grand jury indicted Williams, Turner, and two others – Dylan Shakespeare Robinson and Branden Michael Wolfe – each on one count of conspiracy to commit arson. All four have pleaded guilty.
Turner was sentenced to three years in prison, while Robinson was sentenced to four. Wolfe received three years and five months. All must help pay restitution.
The Tribune reported that Williams told the court he was ashamed of his actions and that since his crime, he has stopped drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. He also said that he would never forget “the pain and agony” of his actions, but added that he has worked steady jobs since the crime, including in security. He also said he was trying to focus on his faith and being a good father.
Late last May, the Post published footage showing the fire that Williams helped cause at the police station. From the Post:
Several police vehicles are seen pulling out of the precinct as protesters run toward the department building, some tossing objects and shouting expletives, video shows.
At one point, a small explosion is seen and someone can be heard suggesting targeting a truck pulling out of the precinct amid the mayhem. Moments later, the protesters scurry away as police vehicles continue to drive away, video shows.
“Hey, motherf–ker,” one person screams.
“Get out of here,” another protester yells.
Rioters continued to throw objects at police cars as they drove away. One asked, “Is that gas?” in reference to the tear gas police deployed to try and stop the rioters.
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