Police car burned in Salt Lake City riot

A Hill Air Force Base airman, Larry Raynold Williams Jr., 22, appeared in federal court Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, on an arson charge. Federal prosecutors allege Williams and four other people participated in the destruction of a Salt Lake City police car during civil rights rioting May 30.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Hill Air Force Base airman charged with helping in the destruction of a Salt Lake City police car made his first court appearance Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office argued in a court document that Larry Raynold Williams Jr. should remain jailed pending trial because he allegedly presents a danger to the community.

Williams, 22, an airman first class in the Air Force, was arrested by FBI agents at his West Haven home Wednesday on a charge of arson.

Williams appeared before U.S. Magistrate Dustin Pead in a web video conference. He remains in U.S. Marshals Service custody and no date for his next court appearance was set.

Prosecutors said in an indictment filed before his arrest that Williams and four other people participated in the police car’s destruction in a May 30 civil rights protest that turned violent.

Demonstrators in Salt Lake and elsewhere around the country were protesting after the death of Black man George Floyd while being held down under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

Prosecutors presented video and photos allegedly showing Williams, wearing a military gas mask from Hill, throwing burning fabric into the police cruiser.

“His dangerous and criminal behavior endangered protesters, other rioters, reporters and first-responders alike,” prosecutors wrote in an argument to keep Williams jailed.

“By its very nature, arson involves a grave threat to life and property,” they said. “The facts of the offense weigh in favor of detention.”

Hundreds of rounds of ammunition were destroyed along with the car.

“As the ammunition was heated by the fire, bullets and bullet fragments were projected erratically from the vehicle, thereby endangering bystanders,” the prosecution document said.

Pead appointed a public defender, Scott C. Williams, of Salt Lake City, to represent the airman.

The attorney and client are not related.

Efforts to contact the attorney were not immediately successful.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt.

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