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Columbia man gets probation for setting fire at 2020 protest

Jeffrey Cotton
Boone County Sheriff's Department
Jeffrey Cotton


A Columbia man will serve two years of probation for setting fires at a protest downtown.

Jeffrey Cotton pleaded guilty to attempted knowingly burning Monday. The charge was reduced after assistant prosecutor Justin Owens said the state did not have evidence the fires Cotton set caused any damage to city property.

Cotton was arrested on June 1, 2020, for setting fires at Providence and Broadway while people protested the police killing of George Floyd. Police said they watched video of Cotton pouring fuel on fires in the area. Witnesses told officers he had returned to the intersection multiple times upset that someone may have damaged his vehicle.

Judge Brouck Jacobs sentenced Cotton to two years of supervised probation for the class A misdemeanor, down from the felony he originally faced. Should he violate that probation, Cotton faces a 180-day jail sentence.

Owens said the plea and sentence were an appropriate resolution to the case. ABC 17 News left a message with Gerald Mueller, Cotton's attorney, for comment on Friday afternoon.

Cotton is one of several people police investigated following incidents downtown during summer protests. Sebastian Tucker was charged in municipal court after driving onto the sidewalk while people marched downtown. The Boone County Prosecutor's Office declined to bring charges against two drivers that hit people in the street at Providence and Broadway, claiming the office couldn't prove they committed a crime.

Columbia / Local News / News / Top Stories

Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors the 5 p.m. show for ABC 17 News and reports on the latest news around mid-Missouri at 9 and 10 p.m.


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