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Man must wash police cars after shooting flare gun at one during protests
Judah Coleman Bailey

A Gainesville man who shot a flare gun into a police car during protests last summer must serve 21 months in prison — then spend 40 hours washing police cars.

Judah Coleman Bailey, 21, is the first to be sentenced of five defendants named in a June 16, 2020, indictment concerning damage to a police car two weeks earlier, according to court documents. 

In announcing the charges last summer, former U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak alleged the defendants used the “cover of peaceful protests in Gainesville” sparked by the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

Defense attorney L. Burton Finlayson told The Times he felt Bailey, who has been remorseful for what happened, was a “good kid that just got overly caught up in the moment.” 

“This started out a night of protest, a very well-intended or very understandable night of protest, and it just got out of control, got out of hand,” Finlayson said.

Bailey pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson and was sentenced June 30 in the Gainesville division of U.S. District Court.

In a sentencing memo, Finlayson said Bailey “admitted that he conspired with his co-defendants to and did shoot a flare gun into the back of an unoccupied police vehicle.”

In the memo, Finlayson said his client’s childhood was “marked by poverty and periods of homelessness,” adding that Bailey became a father three weeks prior to the Floyd protests and was caring for his disabled mother.

“While this major life event should have made Mr. Bailey, who was then 20, act in a more responsible manner, the interfamily stress and conflict may have compounded the anger and frustration which Mr. Bailey had building up within him,” the defense attorney wrote.

Upon release from prison, Bailey will be on supervised release for three years. The sentence includes 40 hours of community service, which the court has directed to be “fulfilled by washing vehicles at the Gainesville Police Department.”

Along with his co-defendants, Bailey was also ordered to pay $3,768.17 in restitution, which was the property damage assessed for the patrol car.

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