Feds Nab Black Blocker Who Allegedly Threw An Unlit Molotov Cocktail Near Police Last May Day

SPD Chief O’Toole says it’s “entirely coincidental” the arrest occured three days before May Day 2017.

A screenshot of video shows the fire, which police quickly extinguished, from a distance. Screenshot via Kiely Allen.

This morning, federal police arrested a man who allegedly threw an unlit Molotov cocktail onto the ground in front of police on May Day last year in Seattle. The man, Wil Casey Floyd, was in his mother’s home in Wisconsin, according to the Seattle Police Department and other agencies.

As we reported, the evening May Day anti-capitalist march in Seattle got hairy last year. From 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. or so, marchers and police sparred during a long, slow walk/bike ride from Westlake to SoDo. At times, the fighting became intense: marchers threw full plastic water bottles, glass bottles, rocks, and at least one Molotov cocktail.For their part, Seattle bicycle officers pedaled Downtown and SoDo’s streets, liberally applying pepper spray, coordinated bicycle-shoving, and blast balls. Shrapnel from one blast ball ripped out a section of one observer’s cheek:

According to SPD, one police officer was injured by the Molotov that Floyd allegedly threw last year. The officer is now fine, according to Chief O’Toole. SPD says they recovered five shattered Molotovs in total after the march. But the Molotov that ultimately burned an officer was unlit when it was thrown onto the street ahead of an advancing line of bike police. It was a police blast ball that ignited the Molotov’s fuel, as the federal charging document against Floyd acknowledges in a passage authored by FBI Special Agent Michael Louis Baldino, who says he was present at the march:

“At approximately 7:40 p.m., a bottle (later identified as a ‘Molotov cocktail’ device) landed near a line of SPD officers. The Molotov cocktail had not been ignited when it was thrown at the officers, but when it landed it caused one of the officers to accidentally drop a flash-bang device, igniting the liquid in the Molotov cocktail and causing a burst of flames” that burned an officer. Baldino’s statement appears to have one important inaccuracy. He states that the Molotov hitting the ground near police “caus[ed]” an officer to accidentally drop the blastball which ignited the Molotov’s fuel. But video evidence appears to show that half a minute elapsed between the time when the Molotov landed in front of police and the time when it ignited.

We asked U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson Emily Langlie about this. She didn’t deny the inaccuracy, saying, “From a legal perspective, it really doesn’t matter…Whether it caused him to drop the flash bang or didn’t, the fact that a vessel of gasoline was thrown…is probably the more important aspect of the case. How can you predict whether a match, a cigarette is then going to be dropped there to light the gas on fire?”

The difficulty of proving that causal connection could explain why authorities are charging Floyd with “unlawful possession of a destructive device” rather than assault. Asked about this, Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg, who is prosecuting the case with help from the King County Prosecutor’s Office, said only that it was “the available federal crime here.”

Chief O’Toole said it was “entirely coincidental” that Floyd’s arrest occurred today, three days before May Day 2017. “But I think it is an opportunity to send a message to those who would bring something of this nature to an event…They’ll be arrested, too.”

According to authorities, Floyd was identified through a months-long review of video and other evidence in an inter-jurisdictional investigation conducted under the aegis of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). From SPD Blotter:

“FLOYD was identified in a lengthy investigation as the member of the so-called ‘Black Bloc’ of protestors who threw unlit incendiary devices at police. FLOYD is charged by criminal complaint with unlawful possession of a destructive device — a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg said there is no minimum sentence. Floyd could also owe up to a quarter million bucks in fines, according to SPD.

Asked whether the involvement of the JTTF implied that the Molotovs constitute an act of terrorism, FBI Special Agent Jay Tabb replied, “I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call this a terrorism incident. For us, [the JTTF is] the logical investigative entity for the activities regarding this group of individuals, because of the partnerships already built with local, state and federal partners and agencies is the Joint Task Force.”

cjaywork@seattleweekly.com

More in News & Comment

What Becomes of Animal Rights Activists After the Action Is Over?

Peter Young and Justin Samuel helped launch a new era in the fight against fur. Then they went their separate ways.

Sound Publishing archives
State Gets an Earful on Legalizing Home-Grown Marijuana

Unique among the states that have legalized cannabis, Washington bans homegrows.

Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon on stage at Seattle U on September 12. Photo by Casey Jaywork
Moon Campaign Calls Out Big Corporations for Quietly Funding Durkan Campaign

Though both mayoral candidates have plans for supporting small businesses in Seattle.

Judge Veronica Alicea-Galván’s courtroom just after hearing arguments on the I-27 lawsuit on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. From left to right: Mark Cooke of the ACLU-WA; State Rep. Drew Stokesbary, serving as counsel to the defendants; Bothell City Council member and I-27 organizer Joshua Freed; Jeff Slayton, counsel from the Seattle City Attorney’s Office; court staff; and the brown-coated shoulder of Dr. Bob Wood, former director of the HIV/AIDS Program at Public Health Seattle/King County. Photo by Casey Jaywork
Judge Blocks I-27, Saves Supervised Consumption Sites

The ballot initiative would have prohibited supervised consumption sites (CHELs) throughout King County.

King County Executive Dow Constantine tells President Trump that he is “failing the American people” at the protest of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ trip to Bellevue on Friday. Nicole Jennings/staff photo
Betsy DeVos’ Bellevue Visit Draws Hundreds of Protestors

“You are failing the American people.”

Photo by Casey Jaywork
DOJ: Seattle Police Are Complying With Consent Decree

But Judge Robart could side with monitor Merrick Bobb, who has said SPD is not in full compliance.

Steve Fournier (with microphone) and Loverboy lead singer Mike Reno (in glasses) on stage at Xfinity Arena last Friday. (Diane Webb / YesterdazeNews.com)
Everybody’s Working For a Refund: Loverboy’s Concert in Everett Was a Flop, and Fans Want Their Money Back

Last month in Everett, the ailing lead singer left the stage and an audience member stepped in.

Trump Move Will Send Insurance Premiums Soaring in Washington

The state was prepared for Trump pulling the rug out from under Obamacare. But it’s not pretty.

Photo via Washington Convention Center
Sister’s Work Could Raise Conflict Issues for Jenny Durkan If Elected

T. Ryan Durkan has worked on projects ranging from the Convention Center to Sound Transit.

Most Read