Man who took part in Grand Rapids riot gets prison, harshest sentence yet among rioters
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A 25-year-old man who took part in last year’s Grand Rapids riot has been given the harshest sentence yet among rioters, a 23-month prison term.
Kent County Circuit Judge Mark Trusock’s sentence against Kyree Lee Robertson left his family both upset and bewildered.
His stepfather, Burl Jones, said he was expecting Robertson to be released with a “time served” sentence. Robertson has been in jail at least six months.
“I was expecting him to come home,” Jones said.
Robertson’s mother said the sentence seemed out-of-proportion with other people already sentenced on a riot charge.
Of 22 people charged in the May 30, 2020 riot in downtown Grand Rapids, several have been convicted and sentenced but a majority are still awaiting trial.
Robertson earlier pleaded guilty to charges of riot and breaking and entering a building.
So far, Robertson is the only person convicted of riot to be sent to prison. The next longest penalty was a one-year jail term ordered against two different rioters.
In court Tuesday, Trusock noted that Robertson was on probation to him for a different offense when the riot happened.
According to police, evidence showed Robertson went into the Family and Pediatric Eye Care, 144 Monroe Center NW. His DNA was found at the scene.
Trusock said the eye care center had windows broken, laptops stolen, sunglasses taken and other damage. There were burns to carpeting, indicating someone tried to start a fire, he said,
“These people, especially on Monroe Mall, there are a lot of small businesses there. That was their livelihood. They didn’t do anything to you or any of these other people.
“For whatever reason, you chose to break into their place, disrupt their lives, put them in a very precarious situation. And there’s no justification or excuse for that,” he said.
As part of the sentence, Trusock gave Robertson 180 days jail credit for time already served.
The riot, which happened following a peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, caused an estimated $2.1 million in damage to shops and government buildings. Floyd, a Black man, died after former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.
Chauvin was charged and recently was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.
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