Two Face Up to 20 Years for Allegedly Torching Police Car During Riot

August 20, 2020 Updated: August 20, 2020

Two Rhode Island men were charged for setting a Providence police car on fire during rioting on June 2, authorities said.

Nicholas Scaglione, 30, and Luis Joel Sierra, 34, face up to 20 years in federal prison if they’re convicted of arson charges.

The arson took place in downtown Providence.

Sierra set the police cruiser on fire by leaning inside the cruiser and igniting a fire with fluid and a lighter while Scaglione squirted a flammable liquid into the vehicle, causing the fire to intensify, according to court documents.

The actions “endangered the safety of dozens of nearby protesters, as the cruiser burst into flames,” U.S. Attorney Aaron Weisman said in a statement.

The police car was destroyed by the flames.

Sierra told another person that he was responsible for setting the car on fire, according to several videos allegedly recorded on Snapchat and taken from Sierra’s phone.

Clothing seized during a search of the suspect’s house turned up clothing that appeared to match the items worn by Sierra overnight June 1.

Scaglione, meanwhile, sent a text to another person that included a photograph showing him on top of a police vehicle during the riot. Scaglione told the person that “his father would be proud because the police gave his father a hard time and the police harass Scaglione as well,” according to a criminal complaint.

“That police cruiser that went up in flames last night can be replaced… I was pissed. I’ve been pissed. That was pent up years of rage and frustration with the way I’ve seen and been treated by police,” Scaglione wrote in text messages, authorities said.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters rally on the steps of the State House during a Black Lives Matter rally in Providence, R.I., on June 5, 2020. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

“That cop car can be replaced. Peoples lives cannot… Then I go out fighting and standing up for [expletive] I believe in. Cuz I know for a fact if it was you or anyone else I was close to I’d burn the whole police force down and not even blink,” he wrote.

Scaglione also texted his ex-wife, with whom he shares a child, and told her he was taking a week off of work because he would be going to jail for a while.

William Dimitri, a lawyer representing Scaglione, declined to comment. An attorney for Sierra didn’t respond to an inquiry.

“We will always support peaceful demonstrations but simply will not tolerate criminal behavior and including individuals’ intent on committing assaults and causing willful destruction of physical structures and property,” Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements Jr. said in a statement.

“Those who believe they can come into the city and cause destruction must know that we will continue to take this very seriously and through investigation hold you accountable.”

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