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Attorney for man on trial for robbing Colossal Cupcakes says Tandre Buchanan was set off by police response to George Floyd demonstration

Defense attorney said Buchanan vandalized but did not commit robbery on May 30, 2020; prosecutors said Buchanan bragged about actions.

CLEVELAND — Tandre Buchanan, the 24-year-old man on trial in federal court for robbing Colossal Cupcakes during the downtown Cleveland riot that followed the George Floyd demonstration, got caught up in the emotion of the day, his attorney said in opening statements today.

Steven Bradley said Buchanan he did indeed vandalize the cupcake shop – and also smashed a revolving door at Huntington Bank -- but he did not steal anything. Bradley repeatedly noted that Buchanan is not charged with vandalism.

Also during his opening remarks, Bradley said Buchanan was “filled with anger and rage” over law enforcement’s reaction to the demonstrators. He said his client was struck by a rubber bullet fired by police outside the Justice Center on Lakeside Avenue, where a confrontation broke out after the march.

Bradley likened that to lighting a match on a “tinder box.”

“It was on,” Bradley said. “All that anger built up and explodes out.”

Prosecutors said video and testimony and other evidence – including his own text messages and social media -- will show Buchanan is guilty of stealing. Prosecutors also say Buchanan obstructed justice by disposing of the bright orange sweatshirt he wore that day. (Buchanan’s attorney said the sweatshirt was thrown out because it had a hole in it from the rubber bullet.)

Buchanan is charged with robbing the cupcake store. Prosecutors says his actions left its employees huddled in a locked bathroom fearing for their lives.

Kelly Kandah, the store’s owner, testified first today. She told 3News earlier about the May 30th riot, but not specifically about any one individual.

“I got into the store, I locked it,” Kandah said earlier. “The next thing you know, someone was chasing you with, like a metal pipe all the way into the bathroom where I met the staff. I was on the phone with 911. I thought they were trying to kill us.”

Federal prosecutors said in court papers it has evidence that Buchanan also stole goods from other stores, including $6,000 of liquor. But the judge has yet to decide if that evidence can be introduced into this trial.

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