A man who vandalized squad cars in St. Paul during the rioting following the murder of George Floyd was given two years probation Tuesday.
Phillip John Williams, 44, of Ostego, was sentenced via Zoom in Ramsey County District Court by Judge Thomas Gilligan for throwing a sewer cap through the window of a State Patrol car and throwing shopping carts at two other squads parked outside the Target at 1300 University Ave. The police were attempting to guard the store from looters during the riots.
Williams was sentenced to 360 days in jail, but Gilligan stayed the sentence in lieu of two years on supervised probation and required Williams to pay $5,078 to the State Patrol as restitution for the damage done to the squads.
Williams’ attorney Matthew Forsgren said Williams “was beset by deep emotions. He was sad. He was angry” the day he vandalized the police cars.
“He did not have violence on his mind,” Forsgren said. “His intention was non-violent protest.”
Williams said he has regrets.
“I regret the whole damn thing,” Williams said. “I felt like I was in a fight. I was yelling and adding to the noise. I didn’t solve anything. I was yelling and banging on stuff. That didn’t help.”
Williams originally was charged with first-degree property damage and third-degree riot. He pleaded guilty to the second charge, a gross misdemeanor, July 29, 2021. The felony property damage charge was dismissed at sentencing.
Forsgren described Williams as a role model to children and teens, explaining that he volunteers at Northside Boxing Club, a nonprofit gym in North Minneapolis. Williams was wearing a shirt with the club’s logo on it March 28, 2020, which helped police identify him.
As part of Williams’ probation, he must complete an anger management program and submit a DNA sample. A 30-day jail stay is hanging over his head. He must check in a year from his sentencing. The judge will make a decision then as to whether he should serve that time or not. He must also participate in eight sessions with a peer group run by Judge George Stevenson.
According to the criminal complaint, two other men also were at the scene throwing items at the squads — Maurice Antonio Anderson, 29, of Minneapolis and Yahye Mohamud Awad, 26, of St. Paul.
Anderson was killed Nov. 9, 2020 in an alleged robbery gone wrong in Eagan. He was shot 11 times by the person he was trying to rob, charges say. That man, Robert Lee Baker III is facing a jury trial in March. No charges are listed for Awad.