A homeless man is facing federal charges in connection to the burning of a police officer’s vehicle as it was parked on a Brooklyn street, officials said Thursday.
Authorities said Michael Rodriguez, 32, had approached the vehicle, which was parked on Devoe Street in East Williamsburg and had a placard of the New York Police Department, around 4:30 a.m. on June 2. The car had been assigned to an NYPD captain.
In the federal complaint, authorities said video footage showed Rodriguez pouring liquid on the unoccupied vehicle's windshield, putting cardboard on it and setting the cardboard on fire.
Rodriguez was arrested Thursday and ordered detained pending trial by a federal judge. An email was sent to an attorney in the federal defender’s office for comment. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
In the complaint, authorities said he appeared to record the fire or take pictures on his cellphone and remained at the location until the vehicle was completely ablaze before leaving on foot. Another car parked nearby was also damaged.
"Under the cover of pre-dawn darkness, Rodriguez allegedly set fire to a vehicle bearing an NYPD placard on a residential block in Brooklyn, endangering innocent residents of the area and first responders to the blaze and damaging a second vehicle," U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said. "The defendant's actions have no place in civil society, and this Office will vigorously prosecute him and others who commit such acts of violence in our community."
Authorities said law enforcement was led to him after getting information after a public release about the fire. If convicted, Rodriguez faces up to 20 years in prison.
In the early days of protest in New York City against the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer, numerous police cars were set on fire.
Three people are facing federal charges in connection to the throwing of Molotov cocktails at police vehicles in two separate incidents in Brooklyn.