Samantha Shader is a 27-year-old woman from Catskill, New York, who, authorities say, threw a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle during a protest against police violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
Shader faces a federal charge accusing her of causing damage to a police vehicle and was initially facing local felony charges, including attempted murder and arson, Hudson Valley 360 reported.
According to her federal charging document, four NYPD officers were in the vehicle at the time and two of its windows were shattered. Police say that Shader’s actions were captured on video by a witness.
Shader was involved in protests that began on the night of Friday, May 29, and ran into the wee hours, and authorities say she threw the explosive in the Crown Heights neighborhood, near the Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue.
Protests in New York City — and cities nationwide — continue, and an 8 p.m. curfew will remain in place in New York through June 8, the New York Times reported.
Here’s what you need to know about Samantha Shader and the Molotov cocktail attack local and federal authorities have accused her of:
1. Shader Was Chased By Police & Bit an Officer on the Leg During Her Arrest, Authorities Say
Federal authorities claim Shader was caught on video lighting the Molotov cocktail while someone else tried to shield her from view. After she threw it, they allege, the same officers in the NYPD vehicle chased her down. The complaint says she bit one officer on the leg during her arrest. Shader eventually admitted “in sum and substance” to throwing the explosive, according to the language in the federal charging document.
The federal charges were filed because the vehicle she is accused of damaging belonged to the NYPD and is involved in “interstate and foreign commerce,” according to the document.
Her initial court appearance was held on Monday, and she remains in federal custody without bail, according to a representative of the U.S. District Court’s Eastern Division.
She could face between five and 20 years in prison if convicted of the federal crime.
Shader is being represented by Sam Jacobson of the Federal Defenders of New York. Jacobson told the Associated Press that Shader suffered injuries during her arrest. He had not responded to a request for comment from Heavy as of Wednesday evening.
2. Prosecutors Want Her Held Without Bail, Claiming She Has an Extensive Criminal History
Shader is a “severe and ongoing danger to the community” and a flight risk, federal prosecutors wrote in a detention memo. They noted in the memo that innocent bystanders could have been harmed in the Molotov attack Shader is accused of.
Prosecutors also claim that Shader has been arrested 11 times in 11 different states. They allege convictions for possession and assault. Heavy was only able to confirm Shader’s 2018 and 2019 misdemeanor arrests for creating a public disturbance and for interfering with an officer in Waterford, Connecticut, per Connecticut state court records.
Citing the nature of the offense Shader is accused of and the criminal history they say she has, prosecutors argued she should be held without bail. “She has demonstrated, at every turn, disregard and contempt for the judicial system and for the law abiding public,” they wrote in Shader’s detention memo.
3. A Pair of Brooklyn Attorneys Was Also Arrested & Accused of Attacking NYPD Vehicles With Molotov Cocktails the Same Night
That same night, Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis were also both arrested and charged with the same federal crime.
Both are lawyers in Brooklyn who authorities allege were protesting nearby where Shader was arrested. In the federal complaint, an FBI agent alleges that Rahman was captured by NYPD surveillance hurling a Molotov cocktail into a police vehicle, setting fire to the console. Police identified a minivan Rahman was seen leaving the scene in and later pulled it over, the complaint states.
Mattis was driving the van, and both were arrested. Authorities found the makings of more Molotovs in the minivan, including a bottle filled with paper and apparent gasoline, as well as a lighter, according to the complaint.
A relative of Mattis told the New York Times, “He’s not a bad person and his family supports him.”
4. Police Say Shader’s Sister Tried to Interfere in Her Arrest
Shader’s 21-year-old sister, Darian, was also arrested by the NYPD after, police allege, she tried to interfere in her sister’s arrest, according to Hudson Valley 360.
Darian was not hit with any federal charges but was charged by police with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration, Gothamist reported.
Heavy did not find any prior arrest records for Darian Shader, and her Facebook profile appeared to have been recently deleted.
5. Molotov Cocktails Are Simple Incendiary Devices Authorities Allege Have Been Used Nationwide During Anti-Police Violence Protests
Anne Helmenstine, Ph.D., defined a Molotov cocktail as a “simple type of improvised incendiary device” in a post on ThoughtCo.
Any kind of stoppered bottle full of gasoline or high-proof alcohol can be turned into such a weapon with a rag stuffed into the neck, acting as a fuse, she wrote. According to Helmenstine, the weapon was first used during the Spanish Civil War.
“While effective at instilling fear in targets, Molotov cocktails present a significant risk to the person using them,” she wrote.
Molotovs have allegedly been used in New York City during the George Floyd protests, and last week, two Minneapolis men were arrested and hit with federal charges after police alleged they threw Molotov cocktails into a county courthouse in Apple Valley, Minnesota, the Star Tribune reported.
Garrett Patrick Ziegler, 24, and Fornandous Cortez Henderson, 32, were both charged with arson and possession of an unregistered destructive device, according to the Department of Justice.
The incident occurred during rioting related to Floyd’s death, according to the Star Tribune.