45 months for man who set CTA van on fire in the Loop during 2020 riots

Darion Lindsey is seen throwing a bottle toward firefighters and setting a box on fire before igniting the CTA van. (U.S. District Court records)

CHICAGO — Nearly four years after he helped set a CTA work van on fire in the Loop during the George Floyd riots, Darion Lindsey pleaded guilty to federal charges on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge John Blakey sentenced Darion Lindsey to 45 months in prison, but Lindsey has already served enough time to offset nearly all of the sentence.

Lindsey, Denzel Stewart, and Lamar Taylor worked together to set the CTA van on fire as it sat abandoned in the middle of State Street on May 30, 2020. According to court records, Stewart and Taylor had already pleaded guilty, receiving sentences of 45 months and 26 months, respectively.

Lindsey “was determined to set a fire that day,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum, claiming Lindsey tried to set a bag on fire in a trash bin at Pritzker Park before turning his attention to the van.

He tossed bottles and fireworks at firefighters who arrived to extinguish the fire “until they had to run off,” the memo said. The fire, said prosecutors, “served as some of the images and stories that tarnished this city.”

Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 57 to 71 months, pointing to Lindsey’s history of assault, battery, and robbery as well as his status as “a proud member of the Black Disciples gang.”

Defense attorneys asked for time served along with the government’s suggested restitution of $20,987.

“He has learned to regulate his emotions and will not recidivate,” one of Lindsey’s lawyers wrote in the defense sentencing memo.

Cook County court records show police and prosecutors filed 14 separate criminal cases against Lindsey between March and July 2020, mostly for misdemeanors. That does not include the federal arson conspiracy case. Local prosecutors dropped most of the cases.

A felony aggravated battery case filed against him in July 2020 is still pending, according to Cook County records.

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