A Salt Lake City man, who lived in Cache Valley for some time, pleaded guilty to a federal charge for his role in burning a police car on May 30, 2020.
Christopher Isidro Rojas, 29, pleaded guilty to a felony count of civil disorder, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah. Rojas faces a maximum of up to five years in prison.
According to a document filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Rojas was involved in protesting the killing of George Floyd on May 30, 2020, when “some of the protestors turned violent and overturned a Salt Lake City Police Department patrol car.”
“This civil disorder interfered with businesses and traffic near 400 South and 200 East, obstructed and delayed the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, and interfered with the distribution and collection of the United States mail — a federally protected function,” the document states, explaining law enforcement officers were “lawfully engaged in the performance of their official duties” during the “civil disorder.” “I (Rojas) participated in the burning of the overturned patrol car with the intent and purpose of obstructing, impeding, and interfering with such law enforcement officers. Specifically, using my cigarette lighter, I worked with a co-defendant to ignite a piece of cloth. Once the cloth was burning my co-defendant threw it into the interior of the overturned police car.”
According to the document, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a second indictment and to recommend a two-level reduction under sentencing guidelines provided Rojas “clearly demonstrate acceptance of responsibly” up to and during sentencing.
The press release states two co-defendants in the case have been sentenced to 20 months and 24 months in federal prison. Two other co-defendants have pleaded guilty but are currently awaiting sentencing. Rojas is the final defendant to enter a guilty plea in the case.
On June 2, 2020, it was previously reported Rojas, though having moved to Salt Lake City, came to Cache Valley to protest police brutality and systemic racism after a previously planned protest had been cancelled due to COVID-19. The protests were peaceful and the Logan City Police donated food and drinks to the protesters outside the Historic Cache County Courthouse on Main Street.
The local and national protests came off the heels of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020; former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and sentenced to a prison term of 270 months in June 2021.
Rojas is currently on home confinement, according to the press release, and is set to be sentenced on Nov. 24.