CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – It was sentencing day for the Cleveland man who admitted to starting a fire inside a downtown restaurant during George Floyd protests nearly two years ago.
U.S. attorneys released photos of Michael Sloan, 27, helping set fire to a county public works van in downtown Cleveland in 2020.
Then, three hours later, when peaceful George Floyd protests turned violent, Sloan would be caught on camera again outside the heavily damaged Rebol Restaurant on Public Square.
“We closed that day knowing it was going to be pretty bad in that location so we actually were closed in advance so that was a blessing in disguise, I think,” owner Corey May says.
On the night of May 30, when Sloan first arrived at the restaurant, the place had already been ransacked. He can be seen on surveillance video walking back and forth surveying the area for about 20 minutes, planning what he was about to do next.
Sloan was seen going inside the restaurant and setting fire to a front counter, then adding fuel to the blaze.
Cleveland police officers near the scene extinguished the flames.
He’s facing a maximum of five years. Sloan apologized inside federal court before a judge delivered the sentence of three and a half years in prison.
May says the sentence is just.
“I think that’s a fair punishment. At the same time, we believe in second chances. I don’t want to see a kid ruin his life for the rest of his life. He made a terrible decision and we forgive him for it.”
Sloan had no criminal record and his defense says he has been battling depression since childhood and even tried to take his own life a year before committing the arson.
He is currently out on bond and will be required to turn himself in to start his sentence.
Restitution will also be determined at a later date with the restaurant owner saying his business suffered damages to the tune of $250,000.