Protester pleads guilty to helping burn police car after being imprisoned for nearly a year

He helped burn the car during a May 30 protest of George Floyd’s murder.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A police car is destroyed and burned during a protest against police brutality at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 30, 2020.

A Utah man admitted that he helped burn a police car during protest of George Floyd’s murder as part of a plea agreement signed last week. Jackson Patton, 27, faces a maximum of five years in prison at his sentencing, which is set for August.

Patton has been incarcerated since June 2020.

His lawyers argued in a document filed Wednesday that Patton should be released to his parent’s home with his father acting as a custodian. They argue that it isn’t fair that he has remained imprisoned while other people involved in the car burning were allowed to walk free.

“What happened to the other defendants charged with the destruction of the patrol car on May 30 shows that Patton does not pose an unmanageable danger to the community,” reads a court document from his public defenders. “The three codefendants charged with committing the very same crime have been released and they have remained released without violations.”

The lawyers say that Patton was not the one who started the fire, although he did admit to “moving a burning cloth into the interior of the overturned patrol car,” according to the guilty plea. They also say he is taking responsibility for his actions with the plea.

The prosecution argued in a document filed in June that arson is a “grave threat” to lives and property. The document said that Patton should be kept in detention because he endangered protesters and first responders by committing arson on a major city thoroughfare.