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Multnomah County moves to revoke bail for man charged with attempting to murder police during protes

Portland police allege 24-year-old Malik Muhammed threw incendiary devices like this at officers during a protest in October.
Portland police allege 24-year-old Malik Muhammed threw incendiary devices like this at officers during a protest in October.

An Indiana man, who prosecutors say threw Molotov cocktails at police and smashed the windows of the Oregon Historical Society during racial justice protests in downtown Portland last fall, was released from pretrial custody on Wednesday after he posted a $212,500 security bond, court records show.

In new court documents, Multnomah County prosecutors argue the man is not eligible for pretrial release because of the severity of the charges.

Malik Muhammed faces 26 felonies, including attempted aggravated murder, attempted murder and unlawful manufacture of an explosive device. Prosecutors say Muhammed, a 24-year-old who lives in Indianapolis, traveled to Portland “for the specific purpose of engaging in the multiple criminal episodes and behavior that this case is based upon.”

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said in court documents filed Friday, “the violent felonies with which Mr. Muhammed is currently charged are not releasable.”

“For the reasons that follow, there is clear and convicting evidence that Mr. Muhammed presents a danger of physical injury to members of the public, and the court should therefore find these violent offenses not releasable,” Deputy District Attorney Nathan Vasquez stated.

Muhammed’s attorney didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.

After he was indicted by a Multnomah County grand jury in March, Muhammed was arrested and later extradited to Oregon. Jail records show he was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on April 29 and held on a $2.125 million security.

Defendants in custody must post 10% of bail, which the Portland Freedom Fund did on Muhammed’s behalf. On its website, the Fund calls itself an “abolitionist organization” that aims to reduce the harms of the criminal justice system “perpetuated against our Black, Brown and Indigenous neighbors” by posting bail “so they may navigate their case from a position of freedom.”

Muhammed was released on May 26, according to jail records, and ordered to report to the county’s pretrial supervision program within 24-hours.

Portland Police Bureau Detective Meredith Hopper investigated the case and reported finding multiple firearms in Muhammed’s travel trailer “including an AR-15 and shotguns” during a search on Oct. 12, 2020, according to court documents.

The AR-15 was owned by an Indianapolis man who told the detective that Muhammed “was attempting to recruit people to engage in violent activities including an armed forceful takeover of a radio or television station” in a redacted location. The AR-15 owner “described the defendant as a communist revolutionary who was attempting to gather people with firearms to engage in acts of violence,” court documents state.

Prosecutors laid out four incidents where, they said, Muhammed destroyed property and jeopardized police officer’s lives.

On September 4, 2020, police say Muhammed and his girlfriend purchased bats and bottles at a Goodwill in Portland, according to video from the store.

The next day, during a protest that police later declared a riot, Muhammed was there and “handed out baseball bats,” Vasquez stated. One of the recovered bats led detectives to the Goodwill.

During demonstrations on Sept. 21 and 23, law enforcement saw yellow beer growlers similar to those purchased by Muhammed on the video from Goodwill.

The bottle thrown at officers on Sept. 21, didn’t break, but had a burnt rag stuffed in the mouth and contained flammable liquid, police said.

“FBI agents in plain clothes were in the crowd and observed a Black male throw the growler and provided a description,” court documents state. They also recovered DNA that “was found to be an extremely strong comparison to the defendant.”

On Sept. 23, during a protest outside the Justice Center in downtown Portland, “a large yellow bottle (similar to a beer growler) was thrown at officers,” court documents state. The bottle “exploded into a large fireball.” It forced officers to run out of the way and one police officer was “sprayed with fire and his lower leg caught fire for a brief moment.” Detectives believe Muhammed threw it, in part, because in Facebook photos he’s wearing a satchel that’s the same as the person seen in several videos throwing the bottle.

During a demonstration on Oct. 11, plainclothes FBI agents said they saw Muhammed use a metal baton to smash the windows at Portland State University, the Oregon Historical Society and other businesses. According to court documents, Muhammed carried a shield and wore all black “with a few small unique identifying details such as red and grey gloves.”

The plainclothes FBI agents relayed the information to Portland Police. When officers moved to arrest Muhammed, he ran, pausing briefly, court documents state, behind barrels.

Police recovered a pistol behind the barrels and also found Muhammad had a loaded 9mm pistol magazine in his pocket, which fit the gun. In all, police say Muhammed carried 30 rounds. After his arrest, a search of Muhammed’s cell phone contained a shopping list with ingredients that are commonly used to make Molotov cocktails, court documents state.

Court records dated Oct. 12, show Muhammed was indicted with riot, criminal mischief in the first degree and unlawful possession of a firearm related to some of the events the night earlier. He later returned to Indiana before the grand jury indicted him in March on the 26 felonies.

“Bail on criminal offenses is a matter of right under Oregon law with a few important exceptions,” Vasquez wrote. “Mr. Muhammed has shown himself to be an incredibly dangerous person. As such, there is absolutely clear and convincing evidence that there is a risk of physical injury to members of the public by Mr. Muhammed while on release.”

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting