Photo by Inna Zakharchenko via Shutterstock

A man from Tacoma, Washington pleaded guilty to committing arson of setting a Seattle Police Department building on fire last year in June, during a Black Lives Matter protest. 

Isaiah Willoughby, 36, pleaded guilty for his crime when news broke of the arrest of the police officers who killed his friend, Manny Ellis. Ellis was killed by Tacoma police last year in March. 

“Isaiah Willoughby was housemates with Manny Ellis when Mr. Ellis was killed by law enforcement officers. Mr. Willoughby’s actions in setting the fire at the East Precinct were motivated in large part by the killing of his friend Manny, the murder of George Floyd, and his own experiences with law enforcement,” said Dennis Carroll, Willoughby’s attorney, during a statement on June 9.

“After learning that the State of Washington would hold Manny’s killers accountable, Mr. Willoughby decided that he would take accountability for his own actions by entering a plea of guilty for his actions related to a fire he set at the Seattle Police Department East Precinct.”

The three officers responsible for Ellis’s death were charged a year and two months after the murder. Two officers were charged with two charges of first-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder, and the third officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter.

The killing of his close friend, the killing of George Floyd, and Willoughby’s own negative encounters with the police, led him to commit arson.   

At first, Willoughby was on the run, covering up his crime by deleting online photos of him with the same clothing he wore during the crime. Willoughby’s posts about his disdain towards the police remained, however. 

Tacoma locals, though, recognized Willoughby through CCTV cameras by his own clothing line apparel of which he was sporting the day of the crime. Furthermore, family members also pinned him at the scene of the crime, informing officers that he was in Seattle at the time of the riots and the fire outbreak. 

Willoughby will be sentenced later this year on Oct. 4.

Written ByRachelle Barrett

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