ROCHESTER — A Dansville resident is among two men facing criminal charges in connection with the ongoing protests in the city of Rochester.
Federal authorities announced criminal charges against the two men Wednesday, accusing them of obstructing law enforcement during a Sept. 5 protest over the death of Daniel Prude.
Adam Green, 20, of Dansville, and Dallas Williams-Smothers, 20, of Rochester, were charged with violating a section of Title 18 of the U.S. Code which makes it a crime to obstruct a law enforcement officer engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties during the commission of a civil disorder.
If convicted, the two men face sentences of up to five years in prison and an up to $250,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.
Green’s charge stems from an incident involving a Rochester police officer alleged to have occurred during the evening of Sept. 5 during a protest against the death of Prude, a 41-year-old Black man who died in March while in police custody in Rochester.
According to the criminal complaint against him, Green is accused of using a “makeshift wooden shield” to strike a helmeted Rochester police officer in the head after the protest had been declared an unlawful assembly and Green and others had been ordered to leave the area.
After being told he was under arrest, Green is accused of resisting the police officer he’d struck and another officer who, by that time, had arrived to assist. Green was ultimately handcuffed and arrested near the intersection of Broad Street and Exchange Boulevard.
The officer he’s accused of striking sustained “a cut and abrasion on the bridge of his nose,” according to the criminal complaint.
Williams-Smothers is accused of igniting a “mortar-style, commercial grade firework” and throwing it at a Rochester police officer during the Sept. 5 protests.
According to the complaint against him, the firework detonated “in the immediate vicinity” of uniformed police officers.
Williams-Smothers then fled on foot, but was later apprehended near 4 Commercial St. in the city.
According to the complaint against him, officers found two more “mortar-style, commercial grade fireworks” in a pouch on Williams-Smothers’ person after apprehending him.
The charges against the two men are the result of a joint investigation by the FBI, Rochester Police Department and other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
During a press conference Wednesday, Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office, said “the FBI holds sacred the rights of all Americans to peacefully exercise their First Amendment freedoms.”
“While most protests here in Rochester have been non-violent, there have been a few agitators who have hijacked the voices of the many passionate and peaceful protesters,” Belongia said. “As alleged in these complaints, the actions of Mr. Green and Mr. Smothers were neither peaceful nor law abiding. To others like them, please know the FBI and our partners are committed to identifying, investigating and stopping such violence.”
Neither Green or Williams-Smothers could immediately be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.