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Judge sentences Boogaloo extremist to 41 years for killing federal officer

An Oakland judge accepted the plea agreement in the case of a former airman with ties to a far-right extremist group who plotted to assassinate law enforcement officers during George Floyd protests.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A member of an anti-government militia group who pleaded guilty to murdering a federal guard during George Floyd protests in Oakland was sentenced in federal court Friday to 41 years in prison.

Air Force Sergeant Steven Carrillo, 33, pleaded guilty to two counts against him in February, and his defense’s plea bargain was accepted Thursday in court by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

Carrillo was arrested in June 2020, one week after he opened fire on law enforcement officials near the Oakland federal courthouse on Clay Street, during a night of protests of the murder of George Floyd. He fired on two security guards on duty outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building, from a van driven by Robert Justus — killing federal guard David Patrick Underwood and seriously wounding his partner.

Law enforcement officers began a manhunt and located Carrillo’s residence in Ben Lomond. In a shootout at his home around 2:24 p.m. on June 6, Carrillo opened fire on and threw a pipe bomb at Santa Cruz County deputies, with one deputy dying from gunshot wounds and others wounded by gunfire. Carrillo was arrested that day by Santa Cruz County law enforcement officers, possessing the same assault rifle from the May 29 incident. Justus was arrested by the FBI on June 11, 2020.

In court Thursday, several members of Underwood’s family came to again speak against the 41-year sentence.

Tammy Evans, Underwood’s cousin, spoke with a trembling voice as she approached the bench to say, “Carrillo is not worth my breath. Patrick Underwood is worth every breath I have.

“Carrillo came like a thief in the night, and just stole someone from our family that we loved and we cherished and we miss very dearly,” she said. “We can’t see Pat again, and I don’t feel like we need to see Carrillo ever again. Whichever way that may be, because I don’t think any amount of time is sufficient.”

Evans left the bench as tears came to her eyes.

Underwood’s sister Angela Underwood Jacobs stood tall and full of emotion when she came to the bench.

“I ask myself every day, where is the justice? He will never share that unmistakable laugh of his with family and friends,” she said.

Turning to Carrillo, seated nearby in his red Santa Rita jumpsuit, she said, “You have disgraced and failed your family. You have brought shame to the uniform you are supposed to represent. You have failed at being human.”

Carrillo initially pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder in July 2020. By December, he informed the U.S. Attorney’s Office that he accepted responsibility for his actions in Oakland. Carrillo pleaded guilty to one count of using a firearm in a crime of violence resulting in death, and one count of attempted murder of a person assisting an officer or employee of the government. He was not charged with federal terrorism in this case.

The sentence was modified by Carrillo’s lack of criminal history, a record of “positive character,” early acceptance of responsibility for his actions and statements expressing his desire to not put his victims through a lengthy litigation process.

The prosecution’s counsel said evidence bore out that Carrillo murdered Underwood “in close proximity to a Black Lives Matter protest of George Floyd’s death” attempting to “foment another civil war.”

Carrillo said he deliberately attacked the security officers and intended to kill them. He also admitted that months before the shooting, he aligned himself with the anti-government Grizzly Scouts, and was one of those who chose Oakland as the target during chaotic protests in order to assassinate police officers, according to his and Justus’sindictments.

A spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department has said the Grizzly Scouts and Boogaloo Boy groups are new extremist groups identified in Alameda County, and federal prosecutors say the Grizzly Scouts organized a small militia in spring 2020 with the goal to attack law enforcement.

Carrillo’s attorney James Thomson said Carrillo has been on high doses of medication for depression since June 2020 and has expressed remorse for his actions. He pointed to Carrillo’s depression over losing his wife to suicide in 2018, and disturbed state after 12 years in the military service, as compounding his “mental health crisis” just before killing Underwood in Oakland.

“There is not a meeting I have had with Mr. Carrillo in the last two years, in which he has not expressed that desire (for remorse) on some level” Thomson said. “It’s a sufficient sentencing for a man who has served his country for more than a decade, with no prior record, and has the mitigating story he has.”

Gonzalez Rogers asked why some records from Thomson about Underwood were kept under seal, saying: “There are narratives out there that are also in my view have not been resolved, and I hope the government and or the defense in their own presentations today intend to provide the public with some clarity.”

Thomson argued those documents must be kept sealed unless the court orders another trial to protect any jury selected for that trial, or to handle Carrillo’s case of shooting Santa Clara deputies, from being “tainted.”

Gonzalez Rogers said after she learned who Underwood was from family and friends, she thought “He was a hero, a peacemaker” who was murdered with “hate ignorance, fear and discrimination.”

The judge addressed the victim’s family and said while she cannot “quote scripture on the bench”, she would quote Nelson Mandela’s words on forgiveness.

Struggling with emotion to speak at times, she added, “I believe there is evil in this world. I say this because I need you to trust me. What I can tell you is that I do not see evil in Mr. Carrillo. If I did, I assure you that I wouldn’t accept the plea agreement, which I intend to do now."

Gonzalez Rogers cited Carrillo’s mental illness and how old he would be at 68, if he were to be released in 35 years instead of 41 years on good behavior. She added that she hoped the sentencing would show people that for such actions, “judges will put you away for decades, and it is not worth it. And those of us who remain will heal. It takes time.”

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