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State charges dropped for Buffalo City Hall arsonist, looter Courtland Renford

A masked, but shirtless Courtland Renford
Buffalo Police
Courtland Renford was caught on surveillance video rioting at Buffalo City Hall in May 2020.

State charges have gone away for Courtland Renford, 22.

He is already serving a five-year federal sentence for starting a fire in Buffalo City Hall and being a looter in an Elmwood Avenue convenience store. Renford also pleaded guilty to federal charges that brought him prison and three years of supervised release.

Both sentences came from events during a May 30, 2020 night of disturbances after the Minneapolis death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said there was no reason to use resources to continue the additional charges.

"He's going to get concurrent time no matter what. He's never going to get more than five years here in the state system. I know that. That five years in the federal system that he got was a substantial punishment, okay? He's not going to get that in the state system and on top of that, it's nine out of 10 times, 99 out of 100 times going to be concurrent time," Flynn said Thursday.

That would mean serving both sentences at the same time.

"Which in my opinion satisfied the interest of the community and the residents of the City of Buffalo," Flynn added. "And, therefore, there's no need to double dip him in the state system. It's not only a wise use of taxpayer dollars, it's just not in the interest of justice at all."

Flynn said he agreed with defense lawyer Samuel Davis that Renford was the only one arrested during the disturbances that May night, involving far more people.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.