4th suspect charged with federal arson in burning of SLCPD vehicle

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Photo Courtesy: DOJ

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A fourth suspect involved in the burning of an SLCPD police car during the riots in Salt Lake City on May 30 has been federally indicted for arson.

An arrest warrant was issued for Lateesha Richards, 24, of Salt Lake City on June 18. While she has yet to turn herself in, she did appear via Zoom with her attorney for an initial appearance on Wednesday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jared Bennett found her to be a danger to the community and ordered her to turn herself in by Friday where she will remain behind bars pending trial.

On Saturday, May 30, a peaceful protest quickly changed into violent acts and rioting. During the riot, a female Salt Lake City police officer who was in her car was surrounded by protestors, federal charges state.

After the officer fled from her patrol car it was overturned, vandalized, and set on fire. Video footage from the event shows has been useful in both the state and feds in identifying and charges those responsible for the damage.

Federal authorities have been filing arson charges against those they believe are responsible for setting the car on fire.

Video footage shows Richards holding a cell phone in her right hand as she walks toward the overturned police car and taking a selfie with the burning car in the background. She then walks away from the patrol car and returns with an item of clothing in her right hand. The complaint alleges she bent down facing the burning patrol car and tossed the item onto the small flames before running away.

The complaint states Richards act helped to further increase the size of the fire. Shortly after, the vehicle becomes engulfed in flames. Law enforcement officers identified Richards from her driver’s license, a booking photo, and her neck tattoo.

Multiple other defendants charged federally with arson, Jackson Stuart Tamowski Patton, 26, Latroi Devon Newbins, 28, and Christopher Rojas, 28, all of Salt Lake City. Newbins and Rojas have been released from custody while Patton remains behind bars where he continues to appeal the courts for a pretrial release.

All four have been federally indicted on one count of arson which carries a potential sentence of 20 years in prison with a minimum mandatory five-year sentence.

Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in a complaint or indictment are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.

Richards attorney filed an emergency appeal in front of U.S. District Judge David Barlow regarding her detainment. Arguments were heard Thursday afternoon.

During the hearing, Barlow mentioned concerns about Richard’s behavior, including other criminal acts she is facing charges for including using a hatchet and large brick to damage another protestor’s car as well as video evidence showing her throwing a baseball bat at police officers.

Richard’s attorney argued she has a very minor criminal history and is the sole provider for her partner and two children.

Ultimately Brown denied the appeal and Richards has been ordered to turn herself into the U.S. Marshalls by Friday at 9 a.m.

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