Note: we are republishing this story amid nationwide discussion regarding police reform and the relationship between police officers and their communities.
An Oregon man was sentenced to five years in prison for throwing a burning flare into a Portland police car during a protest.
Damion Zachary Feller was arrested after a local TV station aired footage of the 23-year-old throwing a flare through a shattered window at a local Target, as well as throwing one into a destroyed police SUV parked across the street.
Other individuals were seen on video kicking and hitting the windows of the police vehicle just before Feller threw the flares.
“I saw that online, and I knew I was (expletive),” Feller told authorities when they showed him a photograph of the moment he threw the flare. The young man admitted to throwing the flare, telling police that he fell victim to the “mob mentality” of the protest.
Feller subsequently pleaded guilty to first-degree arson, second-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief and riot. He was charged locally as well as federally, but took a plea deal that will not require additional jail time for the federal charges.
Feller told authorities that he was homeless for a year prior to his arrest, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The young man had no prior criminal convictions, though he was arrested four times total in Oregon, Texas and Colorado on allegations of nonviolent crimes or for failing to appear in court.
Feller, The Oregonian reported, will be eligible for release from prison after four years if he is able to display good behavior.
Many readers called for the man to receive a longer sentence for his actions.
“He knew [exactly] what he was doing. Take off their masks and they are little whinny boys and girls. Not [martyrs]...just punks. He said he was homeless with nothing else to do, except maybe...look for a job,” one reader commented on Facebook in response to the story.
“It's a start but not hardly enough! He should have gotten at least ten years and community service! We need to start cracking down on these violent protesters,” another wrote.
“It's just a shame that there can not be a better punishment than the life of Riley in jail for these cupcakes. I'm of the mind that these people should be made to WORK OFF THE COST OF THE DAMAGE THEY CAUSE in some [manner],” another added.
“How about his actions and the resulting consequences were a direct result of poor choices he consciously made and nothing else,” another reader commented.
Sources: The Oregonian