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Probation, community service ordered for 2 who overturned police car in riot

People take photos of a damaged police car as they protest police brutality in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protesters joined others across the nation after George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota, died at the hands of police on Memorial Day.
People take photos of a damaged police car as they protest police brutality in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protesters joined others across the nation after George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota, died at the hands of police on Memorial Day.
Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Two men charged with flipping a police car at a Salt Lake demonstration that turned into a riot have admitted to criminal charges as part of plea bargains.

Connor Matthew Peebles, 21, and Ian Eric Nightingale, 19, pleaded guilty Thursday in 3rd District Court to criminal mischief, a second degree felony.

On May 30, a Salt Lake police officer was driving a marked patrol car near the Salt Lake Main Library when people protesting the killing of George Floyd “surrounded the car and began pounding on the windows,” according to charging documents.

After other officers stepped in to pull her out of the car and away from the crowd, several flipped the vehicle onto its hood. Video later collected by police showed Nightingale “using a skateboard to smash out the rear window of the patrol car once it has been turned over,” the charges state.

After the hearing Thursday, defense attorney Carlos Navarro called the incident a “horrible moment in time where they let their emotions get the better of them and it’s not who they are.”

Connor Peebles
Connor Peebles
Salt Lake County Jail

Both Nightingale, of South Jordan, and Peebles, who lives in Michigan, turned themselves in as detectives began investigating. They were among 13 charged in connection with the overturned patrol car that was set ablaze. Several in the group are due back in court later this month.

Separately, two other men have been charged with committing federal crimes for allegedly lighting the police car on fire once it was on its hood.

Salt Lake County prosecutors originally charged the pair with first-degree felony counts of criminal mischief under a gang enhancement, but Navarro said Peebles and Nightingale didn’t know each other and they pleaded guilty to the reduced charge as part of a plea deal.

No jail time was ordered for either of the men. Both entered a plea in abeyance, meaning the charge will be further reduced to a class A misdemeanor if they successfully complete three years of probation. The judge also ordered them to complete 100 hours of community service, pay a $2,000 fine and chip in $700 to cover costs of damage to the car.

In exchange for their pleas, charges of rioting, a third-degree felony, were dismissed against both men.