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Man who helped burn Salt Lake City police car during 2020 protest sentenced to 2 years in prison

A Salt Lake City Police Department patrol car is overturned during a protest in downtown Salt Lake City on May 30, 2020. A man who admitted to helping overturn and burn the car was sentenced this week to two years in federal prison in the case.

A Salt Lake City Police Department patrol car is overturned during a protest in downtown Salt Lake City on May 30, 2020. A man who admitted to helping overturn and burn the car was sentenced this week to two years in federal prison in the case. (Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City man who admitted to helping overturn and burn a police car during a May 2020 protest will spend two years in federal prison.

Jackson Stuart Tamowski Patton, 27, was sentenced to 24 months in prison Tuesday, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. He was also ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution and serve 36 months of supervised release after finishing his prison sentence.

In May 2021, Patton pleaded guilty to felony civil disorder. On May 30, 2020, he participated in a protest in downtown Salt Lake City against the killing of George Floyd. During the protest, several people overturned and burned a Salt Lake City Police Department patrol car on 400 South in front of the Salt Lake City Public Library.

Patton admitted that he participated in the burning of the car, according to the attorney's office. He also admitted to putting a burning cloth inside the car, which accelerated the fire.

As part of his plea agreement, Patton also admitted that law enforcement officers were lawfully performing their official duties on the day of the protest, and that he helped burn the patrol car with the intent of obstructing, impeding and interfering with law enforcement officers.

Prosecutors examined several terabytes worth of evidence from the protest, including still and video images collected from social media, law enforcement agencies and private citizens, the attorney's office said.

Prosecutors also examined multiple text messages Patton sent to friends in the days leading up to and following the May 30 protest.

On May 29, Patton asked what time the "riot" started in a text message to a group of his friends, according to the attorney's office. He also asked if he should "bring machetes to the riot tomorrow" and said "we can all have one" in subsequent text messages. He also texted "yes dude. I'm turning it into a riot."

On May 30, Patton texted a friend "(I)'m fully going down there with the intention of breaking things."

In a separate text message, he said he needed to "figure out" how to turn the protest into a riot, and said "all I gotta do is sneakily throw a rock through a window... of the police station," according to the attorney's office.

After the burning of the car, Patton texted his friend group that someone had filmed him starting the fire. He also texted "we just (expletive) a cop car up with a cop in it…he literally had to curb hop his car to get out," according to prosecutors. Later, he texted the group "look who started the fire lol."

Lateesha Richards, one of Patton's co-defendants in the case, was sentenced to 20 months in prison on Aug. 3 for her role in the burning of the police car, according to the attorney's office. Latroi Devon Newbins and Larry Raynold Williams Jr., two other co-defendants, have pleaded guilty in their cases and are awaiting sentencing. A fifth defendant, Christopher Isidro Rojas, has a trial date set later this year for his case.

The summer of 2020 featured numerous protests across the U.S. in response to Floyd's killing and other incidents where police were accused of violence. Earlier this year, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter for Floyd's death. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

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