Alaska native suspect in SPD East Precinct arson case to be charged with federal crimes

SEATTLE — A 19-year-old Anchorage, Alaska man is expected to face federal arson charges for allegedly setting a fire outside the walls of the Seattle police East Precinct building Monday night.

King Co. prosecutors were planning to file charges on Desmond David-Pitts on Wednesday, but federal authorities informed the court they would charge David-Pitts in U.S District Court Thursday.

David-Pitts has been a well-known outspoken protester in Alaska for months, after an Anchorage police officer shot and killed his younger brother, 16-year-old Daelyn Polu, in February. Anchorage police said officers in the shooting acted in self-defense, after someone in Polu’s car fired shots at police. One of the bullets struck an officer’s badge and deflected into his Kevlar vest.

In surveillance video, while rioters are moving around the East Precinct Monday night, one person can be clearly seen taking nearly two minutes to build a fire along the outer walls of the building. Police arrested David-Pitts after they said officers watched him start the fire, and grow the flames with bags and cardboard.

Police said eventually the flames grew to about ten feet, before they were able to put it out.

“We were anticipating asking for a very high bail because from what we heard from Seattle police,” said King Co. prosecutor spokesman Case McNerthney. “There were seven officers in the building who say they were afraid to go out, and also they were questioning if they even had a way to get out. And that was evidence that we were expecting to present to a County judge.”