New York Daily News
A woman who tossed a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD van with four cops inside in Brooklyn during the 2020 George Floyd protests was sentenced to six years behind bars Tuesday.
Samantha Shader, 29, pleaded guilty in April to a federal arson charge for turning a Bulleit bourbon bottle into a makeshift firebomb on May 29, 2020, that she hurled near Eastern Parkway and Washington Ave. in Crown Heights.
“Get out of my motherf—-g way,” the woman from upstate Saugerties yelled before the throw, which was caught on video.
The bottle broke the van’s window, but the fluid inside, which the feds describe as acetone or nail polish remover, didn’t ignite, and the four officers were spared a fiery fate.
When NYPD officers arrested her, she bit one of them in the leg.
Federal prosecutors were asking for 87 months behind bars, and Shader’s lawyers hoped for the five-year mandatory minimum.
Brooklyn Federal Judge Dora Irizarry more or less split the difference with the six-year sentence, but not before unleashing some fire of her own.
She blasted Shader’s court-appointed Federal Defenders for several of their arguments, and asked how the lawyers were able to get Shader, who is white, 70 hours of therapy sessions for her childhood trauma issues, when other Metropolitan Detention Center prisoners can’t get similar programs.
“I’m rather curious is to how the Federal Defenders has been able to manage treatment such as this for this client when I’ve never seen it happen with any of the other clients,” the judge said. “Unfortunately, I’ve had defendants who have suffered worse as children‚ people of color, and I’ve never seen them have this kind of treatment available to them.”
Shader’s lawyer Amanda David tried to sidestep the question, saying, “It is unfortunate that it has not been done with many of our clients.”
“With any of your clients,” Irizarry shot back.
Deirdre von Dornum, the Federal Defenders attorney-in-charge, pushed back on Irizarry’s inference.
“Despite our limited resources, a number of our clients have received therapy through experts we have retained; this is in no way limited to white clients who comprise a minority of our client base,” she said. “The expert used in this case has previously worked with several other clients, the majority of whom are not white. Judge Irizarry only sees the cases before her, which are hardly a representative sample.”
The judge also torched Shader’s lawyers for pointing out, in their sentencing submissions, that Shader was drunk and high when the crime was committed. Irizarry said the defense should have argued a “diminished capacity” defense.
“You can’t speak out of both sides of your mouth and have it both ways. It might work for somebody else. It won’t work with me,” she told David.
Irizarry also rejected Shader’s contention that she didn’t know the van had anyone inside it.
Shader’s lawyers initially argued in court filings that the bottle thrown wasn’t a Molotov cocktail because it was “a thick glass Bulleit whisky bottle, and was not readily breakable, as opposed to functional Molotov cocktails which generally employ thinner glass containers, like beer bottles.”
Federal prosecutors said they were willing to prove at a separate hearing that the bottle was, in fact, a Molotov cocktail that would have erupted if it broke.
“What she wanted to do when she lit that thing … was to create hell, was to create destruction,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Algor said. “She used fire, fire that she couldn’t control when she let it go.”
Before her sentencing, Shader apologized to the police, the judge and her family. “I wish more than anything that I can take all of this back. What I did was wrong and disrespectful,” she said. “I have no excuse for what I did so I’m not going to try to make any.”
Before passing down her sentence, Irizarry said that while the Constitution protects “the public’s right to speak out on issues that are important to them,” Shader’s actions crossed the line into reckless violence.
”The images are clear. You had a lighter. You lit the fuse. You threw it,” the judge said. “Had it worked, it’s not just the lives of the four officers. These vehicles have gasoline. It would have exploded. … The possibilities were definitely catastrophic.”
Shader’s friend Timothy Amerman, who the feds say gave her glass bottles, paint and a hammer to throw at Brooklyn cops and counterprotesters, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty last year to conspiracy to commit civil disorder.