Two Hall County men have been sentenced to federal prison for firing a flare gun into a Gainesville Police vehicle during protests last year, according to court documents.
Delveccho Waller Jr., of Gainesville, and Bruce Thompson, of Oakwood, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson. Waller was sentenced Aug. 26 to 21 months in federal prison, while Thompson was sentenced to 14 months and 21 days in prison.
Both men were given three years of supervised release after their time in prison.
Waller and Thompson were two of five men charged in a June 2020 indictment concerning a Gainesville Police car that was set on fire June 2, 2020 during protests in Gainesville.
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 George Floyd’s death by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Judah Bailey, of Gainesville, received a 21-month prison sentence in July, and the cases against Jesse Smallwood and Dashun Martin, both of Gainesville, are still open.
According to court records, Martin’s and Smallwood’s cases were certified ready for trial Aug. 18.
Waller’s defense attorney, Arturo Corso, said his client and co-defendants “got swept up in the emotion of an otherwise peaceful protest march last year calling attention to George Floyd’s unlawful killing by a Minneapolis police officer.”
“After the march, they gave into a frenzy of their own emotion and did a very, very stupid thing by firing a flare gun into an unoccupied, parked police car,” Corso said in a statement. “There is a storied history in this country of nonviolent protest against the government. Non violence and non cooperation works. Peacefully raising your voice against injustice works. But when you stoop to equal the actions of those you complain about, you forever surrender the moral high ground and betray all your brothers and sisters who have taken up your cause.”
Corso said Waller admitted what he did so he could “be an example to other young people not to make the same mistake and slow the progress of police and criminal justice reform.”
“It is ironic that the patrol vehicle was of the Gainesville Police Department because they have really taken efforts to lead in this area by use of body cameras, de-escalation training, community policing, inter-departmental accountability, and leadership that accentuates dignity and respect for all people,” Corso said. “It’s not like that in other places around the state and across the country.”
In a sentencing memo filed with the court, Thompson’s defense attorney, Jay Strongwater, said his client gave a “complete and accurate uncounseled statement” to the FBI that has been consistent.
“Thompson has acted equally rashly and impetuously,” Strongwater wrote in the memo. “During the George Floyd protests in Gainesville, he foolishly participated in the flare gun shooting by egging on his codefendant to fire into the patrol car. In his more rational moments, he realizes there are correct and legal ways to protest.”
Strongwater did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, Aug. 31.
The co-defendants were ordered to pay joint restitution of $3,678.17, which was the total damage to the police car.