St. Paul man sentenced for 3rd Precinct arson, ordered to pay $12M in restitution

The Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct was set on fire and breached during the riots following George Floyd's death in May 2020. (FOX 9)

A St. Paul, Minnesota man was sentenced to 41 months in prison Tuesday for his role in the arson at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct last May. 

Branden Wolfe, 23, pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to commit arson. As part of his sentencing, he was ordered to serve two years of supervised release and pay $12 million in restitution, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

According to court documents, on May 28, 2020, Wolfe went to the Third Precinct, where hundreds of people had gathered to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. At one point, the crowd began shouting, "Burn it down, burn it down." A fence surrounding the building was torn down.

Wolfe pushed a barrel into a fire that had been set in the entrance of the Third Precinct, with the intent to accelerate it, the documents say. 

Wolfe then went into the Third Precinct building and stole several items, including a police vest, duty belt, handcuffs, earpiece, baton, knife, riot helmet, pistol magazine, police radio, police overdose kit, uniform name plates and ammunition. He was arrested less than a week later wearing the police vest, the duty belt and carrying the tactical baton.

"Mr. Wolfe furthered the destruction that took place in Minneapolis last summer by literally adding fuel to the fire. In addition to the arson, [he] stole body armor, weapons, and ammunition belonging to the Minneapolis Police Department," Acting U.S. Attorney Anders Folk said in a statement. "This sentence underscores the seriousness of Mr. Wolfe’s actions and holds him to account." 

Two other men, Bryce Michael Williams, 27, and Davon De-Andre Turner, 25, have all pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit arson for their roles in the arson at the Third Precinct building. They will be sentenced at a later date.