Two Pennsylvania men were sentenced to federal prison after they were convicted of destroying a police car and attempting to set it on fire during last year’s protests after the killing of George Floyd.
Videos showed the two men jumping up and down on the roof of the cop car in downtown Pittsburgh on May 30, 2020. They along with others were also seen trying to set a fire in the police car.
Da’Jon Lengyel, 24, of McKees Rocks was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison. Christopher West, 36, of Pittsburgh was ordered to serve four years, receiving more time than Lengyel in part because of his criminal history.
“I know what I did was wrong, and I want to serve punishment for it,” West said. “It was impulsive. I followed the crowd. I should have been a leader, not a follower.”
U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan said thousands were protesting but only a few destroyed the police car. He said their actions took “away from First Amendment rights and the message meant to be conveyed by all the people there.”
West received more time than Lengyl in part because of his criminal history. Defense attorney Frank Walker argued that his client has already served his time for his past crimes, the Tribune-Review reported.
“I believe he has potential,” Walker said. “I believe he has the ability to be rehabilitated.”
Both Walker and Lengyel’s defense attorney, Marty Dietz, argued for leniency based on the time their clients have served pretrial at Allegheny County Jail, which they called hard time, especially given the lockdown conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
West, who still faces state charges over allegations that he took a news photographer’s camera during the protest, acknowledged wrongdoing in a lengthy speech to the court.
McKees Rocks Man Pleads Guilty to Setting Fire to Pittsburgh Police Vehicle and Interfering with Law Enforcement During Civil Unrest: Da’Jon Lengyel, a resident of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of stemming fr… https://t.co/HxYQyBu4fy
— FBI Pittsburgh (@FBIPittsburgh) June 2, 2021
8 Indicted for Criminal Activity – including Arson, Obstruction & Bank Burglary – during May 30, 2020 Civil Disorder in #Pittsburgh @FBIPittsburgh @ATFPHILADELPHIA @PghPolice https://t.co/XTMMLFRhLu pic.twitter.com/5VkFmIlld0
— WDPAnews (@WDPAnews) July 29, 2020