(Oregon Live) – A man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder at a Portland protest does not appear to be the person who threw a Molotov cocktail at police in a now-viral video, a law enforcement source told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Prosecutors declined to file multiple felony charges against Joseph Robert Sipe, who authorities booked into the Multnomah County jail early Thursday, records show.
He had been accused of some of the most serious crimes yet to stem from the city’s near nightly demonstrations against police, which began in late May.
#molotov thrown as police charge at the #PortlandProtest. Then they drive us half a mile west, assisted by #feds, popping off pepper balls and flashbangs along the way. Unconfirmed reports of multiple #arrests pic.twitter.com/gHEdyPhZnY
— Kerry Harwin (@flashhardcor) September 24, 2020
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 25, 2020
Portland police had arrested the 23-year-old on allegations of attempted murder, attempted assault, first-degree arson and unlawful possession of a destructive device during a demonstration in honor of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman fatally shot by police in Louisville, Kentucky.
Sipe was arraigned Thursday afternoon on charges of riot and unlawful possession of a destruction device, court records show.
Prosecutors allege police saw Sipe lighting the wick to an explosive device moments after protesters threw rocks, fireworks and at least one Molotov cocktail at officers near Southwest Second Avenue and Main Street on Wednesday night, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Sipe, who was tackled by police, also told authorities he had thrown an explosive at officers as they moved up Main Street, according to the affidavit. The affidavit did not say whether the explosive detonated.
But a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said Sipe was wearing different attire than the person seen in multiple videos hurling a Molotov cocktail that bursts into flames in front of officers about 10:30 p.m.
The Multnomah District Attorney’s Office on Thursday night said “law enforcement continues to conduct investigative follow up to determine exactly who threw the Molotov cocktail from this incident.”
Hundreds had filled Southwest Third Avenue in front of the downtown Multnomah County Justice Center on Wednesday night, hours after Kentucky’s attorney general announced Louisville officers would not face charges in Taylor’s death.
Police later declared the demonstration a riot after a handful of protesters targeted officers and the bureau’s Central Precinct — which is housed inside the Justice Center —with rocks and fire. At least 13 people were arrested.
Sipe’s next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 1.