Utah Protesters Take Plea Deal, to Pay $100K for Damages

June 17, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Four of the nine protesters charged after police accused them of painting a street red and smashing windows at a district attorney’s office last year in Salt Lake City have taken a plea deal and must pay $100,000 in damages, officials said.

Eight of the protesters have taken deals that lower their original offenses to misdemeanors, including Marvin Oliveros, Madalena McNeil, Madison Alleman, Viviane Turman, Sofia Alcala, Michelle Mower, Emanuel Hill and Hurija Mustafic, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Some of them faced felony charges and up to life in prison. The case for the ninth protester is still ongoing.

Under the plea deal, the protesters’ charges will be dismissed in a year if they are not accused of additional crimes and meet other conditions, prosecutors said. Oliveros, McNeil, Alleman and Turman agreed to the deal on Tuesday. Alcala, Mower and Hill previously agreed to the same deal.

The deal also requires all but Mustafic to pay restitution after the July 9 protest, which erupted after District Attorney Sim Gill said two officers were legally justified in shooting and killing 22-year-old Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal.

About 100 people gathered for the protest, authorities said. Two protesters broke four windows with metal rods, while others poured buckets of red paint on the road and building, which reportedly symbolized the blood on Gill’s hands.

Court documents said protesters caused about $200,000 in paint and window damage and must now pay back $100,000 after an insurance deductible.

Prosecutors said they believe 10 people were involved in the paint damages, but only six were arrested and charged. Those six protesters must each pay about $8,500. Hill, who pleaded guilty to breaking one of the windows, must pay back $3,895, or one-fourth of the cost of the window damage.

Defense attorney Brent Huff, who is representing Alleman, said it is a good resolution. But he also said it does not make up for the repercussions many of the protesters faced for being charged with first-degree felonies, which will stay on their FBI records for the rest of their lives unless their records are expunged.

Gill said his office did nothing wrong when it filed first-degree felony charges against the protesters. He also owned both charging decisions on Tuesday.

“If you engage in unlawful conduct, there’s going to be consequences,” he said.

McNeil said Tuesday that despite the deal, the case is not over.

“The next year is going to be me looking over my shoulder for cops ready to arrest me, ruin the plea agreement, and get me sent to jail,” she said.

The protesters have created a fundraising account to help pay off the damages. It had more than $17,500 as of Tuesday.

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