Man pleads guilty in police car fire at George Floyd protest

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who admitted to setting fire to a police vehicle during protests in Philadelphia over the George Floyd police murder has pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Carlos Matchett, 32, of Atlantic City, New Jersey, pleaded guilty Friday to obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder and traveling to fuel a riot, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In exchange for the pleas, the prosecutors agreed to drop the arson charges, which would carry a mandatory minimum jail term of seven years.

Matchett, who will be sentenced in February, is the fourth defendant to admit to setting fire to police cars during a mass demonstration outside Philadelphia City Hall in May 2020. He was also indicted the next day in a protest in Atlantic City that began peacefully but ended. with theft and vandalism at outlet stores.

According to an indictment, New Jersey police arrested Carlos Matchett at the scene with a pocketknife, ax and a jar of what appeared to be gasoline. Authorities claimed he had a social media page with a post that read “LET A RIOT START” and a video urging people to enter a store.

Matchett admitted in court that he set fire to an overturned police car in Philadelphia and said he sprayed the car with lighter fluid before throwing the entire bottle into the burning car. He also acknowledged that he had broadcast his efforts to encourage looting in Atlantic City live.

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Three other people are still accused of setting fire to police cars in Philadelphia during the demonstration; one is awaiting sentencing and two are due to trial.

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