PITTSBURGH, PA — A Pittsburgh resident pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and bank burglary in connection with the downtown Pittsburgh protest on May 30, 2020, announced Acting United States Attorney Troy Rivetti.
Devin Montgomery, 27, formerly of Birmingham Avenue, Pittsburgh pleaded guilty on March 27, 2023, to two counts before Chief United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on May 30, 2020, a protest march was held in the downtown Pittsburgh area. The march was related primarily to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. The march in Pittsburgh began at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Liberty Avenue in the downtown area, and eventually finished at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Centre Avenue near the intersection with Washington Place above the PPG Paints Arena. At that time, many of the participants were agitated, and members of the crowd began to vandalize a marked Pittsburgh Police vehicle (Unit 3212) on Centre Avenue. The crowd eventually set that vehicle on fire and it was totally destroyed.
Shortly after the Unit 3212 was set afire, the crowd turned around and began to walk back down Washington Place toward a line of police officers in riot gear. After a brief standoff, the police decided to avoid physical confrontation with the crowd and left the area. However, one of the police vehicles (the unmarked vehicle which is the subject of the charge in the Information) was left unattended, parked at the curb near the Fifth Avenue entrance of the PPG Paints Arena. After the police vacated the area, the crowd immediately descended upon that vehicle and began to vandalize it.
Videos obtained during the investigation show a male wearing a number 84 Antonio Brown Steelers jersey near the open rear passenger door of the unmarked vehicle. The person in the Antonio Brown shirt had the same body build, skin tone and facial hair as Devin Montgomery. He also had the same unique tattoo of a black bomb on his left elbow as Devin Montgomery. At one point during one of the videos, the man’s COVID type mask slips below his nose, displaying a facial profile that appears to be identical to Montgomery’s profile. In a jail call from Montgomery to one of his friends on the outside, after Montgomery was detained in May of 2021, Montgomery discusses his frustration about being detained, and says “it’s just property damage, it’s not like I hurt someone.”
Video footage of the scene showed that, as Montgomery stands near the unmarked vehicle, there was an unknown male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and facemask standing right next to him. They were each holding and igniting items in their own hands. The unknown male had a small container of lighter fluid in one hand.
The unknown male was first to toss his lit item into the backseat area of the unmarked vehicle, and then Montgomery tossed his own lit item into the backseat area immediately thereafter. The fire quickly spread in the interior of the vehicle, and eventually completely destroyed the vehicle. After the second police vehicle was burned, many people from the crowd headed back into downtown, where numerous businesses were vandalized, burglarized, and looted. The Dollar Bank on Smithfield Street was one of those victim businesses. The government has video depicting Montgomery and another individual using rocks to smash the windows and glass entrance doors to Dollar Bank, and then enter the vestibule area between the two sets of doors.
Following the guilty plea, Judge Hornak sentenced Montgomery to four years’ incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution to cover the cost of the police vehicle that was destroyed.
Assistant United States Attorney Shaun E. Sweeney is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
Acting U.S. Attorney Rivetti commended the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives as well as the Bureau of Pittsburgh Police for conducted the investigation that led to the successful prosecution of Montgomery.
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