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Man pleads to charges in damage to police car amid protests

May 24, 2021 GMT

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A western Pennsylvania man accused of helping to set fire to a Pittsburgh police car during last year’s protests over the death of George Floyd has pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Christopher West, 26, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to set fire to property of an organization that receives federal funding and unlawful interference with a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder.

Prosecutors said West attended a May 30 protest march and he and another man jumped in to aid two other men who had begun vandalizing the police vehicle. Prosecutors said the group placed cardboard and paper into the passenger compartment and one set the material afire, which eventually destroyed the vehicle.

The Tribune-Review reports, however, that West disputed the prosecutor’s reference to an alleged assault on a television news camera operator. He faces separate charges in Allegheny County court stemming from those events.

Defense attorney Frank Walker said after the hearing that he hoped that his client’s sentence would be similar to that imposed on other people facing similar charges.