A fourth person has been charged by federal authorities in the burning of a Salt Lake City police car in May during a protest against police violence.
Lateesha Richards, 24, of Salt Lake City faces one count of arson for allegedly throwing an article of clothing into the police car to serve as tinder, according to an unsealed U.S. District Court complaint.
Richards, also known as Lateesha Kahryn Ritchards, appeared in court with her attorney via Zoom on Tuesday, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. She has not turned herself in to the U.S. Marshals Service. Magistrate Judge Jared Bennett ordered Richards to turn herself in by Friday after he found her to be a danger to the community. He also ordered her to be held in jail pending trial.
Prosecutors have now charged 11 people with being involved in flipping and burning a police car during a May 30 protest sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Three of them, Christopher Isidro Rojas, 28; Jackson Stuard Tamowski Patton, 26; and Latroi Devons Newbins, 28 — all of Salt Lake City — join Richards in facing federal charges. According to a Department of Justice update, Patton is still in custody, while Newbins and Rojas have been released.
The burning of the police car was one of the most memorable images from that day’s protest. Probable cause statements say an officer was driving her patrol car into work and was stopped by a crowd of protesters near 200 East and 400 South. The crowd surrounded her car and banged on the windows, according to the statement. She called for help and was picked up by other officers.
After that, police say, defendants pushed the car onto its roof. It was later set on fire and destroyed.
Video footage shows a person that police have identified as Richards taking a selfie in front of the overturned car. The person momentarily leaves the scene and then returns with what prosecutors say is an item of clothing. According to the complaint, Richards tossed the item into the small flames inside the car before running away. Two people, believed to be Richards and Newbins, returned to take selfies with the car burning in the background.
The clothing served as an accelerant, according to prosecutors, and flames engulfed the car shortly afterward.
Salt Lake City Police Department officers identified Richards based on her driver license photo, a booking photo and a neck tattoo of red lips.