Michigan Gun Owner Imprisoned After Righteous Non-Shooting Defensive Gun Use

Black Michigan Gun Owner Imprisoned After Righteous Non-Shoot

Photo via MichiganRadio.org

A case in Michigan should provide a lesson for us all when it comes to the defensive use of a firearm. Siwatu-Salama Ra (pictured above with her daughter) found herself arrested after brandishing a firearm in justifiable self-defense. In a gross miscarriage of justice, the 26-year-old Ra now sits in a Michigan prison on a mandatory two-year sentence, while her assailant went scot-free.

The story begins with a disagreement that resulted in Channel Harvey intentionally crashing her car into Ra’s occupied vehicle. Ra recognized that her daughter was in danger inside her car as Harvey threatened to continue crashing her car into Ra’s. At that point, Ra accessed a legally purchased handgun from the car’s glove box.

Ra then warned the aggressor to stop – at gunpoint. Harvey snapped a photo with her phone before driving off to the nearest police station to file a police report – conveniently leaving out the events that lead up to Ra brandishing the gun.

Because Harvey filed a report first, cops and prosecutors viewed her as the victim. Ra was eventually charged with two counts of felony assault, one against Harvey and one against her daughter who was in Harvey’s car when she rammed Ra’s vehicle. Harvey was somehow never charged.

Let that stand as a valuable lesson should you ever use your firearm in a defensive situation – even without firing a shot. Call the police and report the incident as soon as possible.

To make matters worse, Ra’s attorney provided less than stellar legal representation. That can happen when you don’t have the resources to hire a competent and skilled attorney and/or expert witnesses. Do you have a legal defense insurance policy yet? The Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network and the US Concealed Carry Association are two of many reputable companies that provide coverage.

In the end, Ra took her case to a jury trial, but the jury rushed their deliberations, apparently to finish before an impending snow storm. They found Ra not guilty of felony assault of Harvey’s daughter (who rode in the car with Harvey), but guilty on counts of assault against Harvey and illegal possession of a firearm.

Reason has the story:

 

How could a jury conclude that Ra’s self-defense explanation was sufficient to dismiss the charge of assaulting Harvey’s daughter, but insufficient to dismiss the charge of assaulting Harvey herself? A jury looking forward to a three-day weekend was apparently disinclined to consider this contradiction.

Michigan’s mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines require a two-year sentence, which means that Ra will have to give birth in jail. Her attorneys asked the court to delay her sentence until after the pregnancy was over, but this request was denied.

The Sierra Club and Black Lives Matter have expressed serious concerns about how this case was handled. Given that it involves a legal gun owner protecting her family and her property, it would be nice to see the National Rifle Association speak up as well. Ra doesn’t belong in prison for any length of time, let alone the next two years of her young children’s lives.

Yes, the Sierra Club. Hopefully the NRA will join the chorus against this unjust conviction of an innocent Michigan woman who was simply protecting herself and her two-year-old daughter from great bodily injury.

 

comments

  1. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    Lazy, good-for-nothing jury/lawyer!! I hope she’s able to mount an appeal.

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      She’ll be out of prison by the time they get around to looking at her appeal.

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        So? Having the felony overturned will mean she gets her gun rights back.

  2. avatar Prudiikal says:

    She should contact the Wallace Firm. They would be much better lawyers than whoever the hell it was she had.

  3. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    does channel harvey only show harveytoons? swat the salami.

  4. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    ‘…guilty on counts of… illegal possession of a firearm.’

    Something doesn’t add up.

    1. avatar BC says:

      Understand that although Michigan is an open carry state, once you get in a vehicle it’s considered concealed. So if she didn’t have a CPL, that’s a charge. Kinda dumb that slthebqxt of sitting in a vehicle makes you a criminal.

      Additionally, we have mandatory pistol registration that doesn’t happen automatically at purchase. You have to send in the paperwork. So my bet would be that is the illegal possession charge.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Oh, that makes sense.

        Are you going to the Second Amendment march to Lansing on June 20th to express your displeasure at Michigan’s obscene and unconstitutional firearm laws?

      2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        I figured it had to be either something like that or she was a prohibited person. And u_s, unconstitutional or not, best make damn sure if you pull your gat out that you’re legal to even have it on you or else you could easily end up like Ms. Ra. A jury of non gun owners isn’t going to understand why you were illegally carrying. I’ve carried long enough to be convinced that, at least for us OFWGs, you could carry concealed illegally all your life and probably be more likely to be struck by lightning than busted for illegal carry. Unless you have to pull it out, then all bets are off.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          We have a similar idiocy in our little piece of heaven. If you transport your firearm between house and vehicle, it must be done inside your garage (doors closed), unless you have a concealed carry permit (cased guns are “concealed”). Now that doesn’t seem like much of a problem; police don’t constantly drive down streets looking for cased guns. However…..

          Your neighbors can pose a difficulty. They may see you (but you can’t seem them in their houses). If you haul a cased weapon (most likely a long gun, but even pistols), and a neighbor sees you, a police visit may result. You would need to produce your concealed carry permit, or take a ride in the black and white. Oddly, a gun inside the cabin of your car can be openly visible, or in a container, and people without permits are not considered to be concealing a gun. However, if you step out of your vehicle with your firearm, without a permit one must display the gun openly (which can result in a “menacing” or “brandishing” charge (same rules apply moving your gun between vehicle and the local shooting range). So it is wise, regardless of permits to only transport firearms between you house and garage in a manner that no one can see you transporting the weapon.

        2. avatar Kyle in Upstate NY says:

          If the cops visit, just don’t answer the door.

      3. avatar MattG says:

        The pistol (non)registration is only a civil infraction.

        1. avatar BC says:

          Well they charged her with a felony assault, then they can tack on possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Then it seems the jury didn’t convict on the felony assault, but kept the weapons charge in addition to the lesser assault.

    2. avatar FedUp says:

      A concealed carry conviction I can buy. She probably didn’t pay a few hundred for a CPL.

      Unlawful possession is insane, unless the reporters totally misstated the conviction. Everybody seems to be saying she had a permit to purchase.

      The Sierra Club is on her side because she appears to be making an unpaid career of Environmentalism. Which also would explain the lack of representation. Can you say “Public Defender”? (and why is it OK, when taxpayers are footing the bill for both defense and persecution, for the persecuting attorneys to have 25x as much money to fight the case as the defenders have, and then call it a “fair trial”, with “adequate representation”?)

  5. avatar former water walker says:

    Wait she got charged with illegal gun possession? That’s nonsensical…all I can add is she should have shot the b##ch.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      That’s what I was thinking, then she could have been first to the cops.

  6. avatar Exit 63 says:

    Your move New Jersey !

  7. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    I know there’s lots of cop hate at this site. But you better be dialing 911 and screaming your victimhood even if no shots were fired.

    If somebody is a big enough asshole to cause you to bring out your gun they are a big enough asshole to swat you.

  8. avatar Monkey Grip says:

    …and the prosecutor is sleeping like a baby.

  9. avatar Sam I A says:

    @John Boch

    This incident happened in July 2017. Where was the NRA? Where was GOA? Where was GLS? Where was RMGO? Where was anybody?

    And…..the whole thing is sketchy. Is it merely cooincidence that Siwatu-Salama Ra is an environmental activist? A political activist?

    What is it about Michigan that rings so many bells of memory. Uuuhhmm, let’s see…..oh yeah, Detroit. Jimmy Hoffa. Joe Zerelli. The Purple Gang. Late 1930s, Janet McDonald. Criminal charges against 150 people including city council members, a county prosecutor, a sheriff, chief of police and a number of cops. And as recently as 2013, more than two dozen officials and contractors were convicted of pubic corruption.

    Should we today expect equitable justice for a black political activist?

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Sam,

      Political corruption seems to be fairly common in large cities. Off the top of my head Chicago, New Orleans, and Boston come to mind as well — and I am anything but a History/Political Science expert.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        On the public official side, large cities harbor deeper and more persistent corruption.

        But where were all the gun rights organizations? Who couldn’t see the injustice from the beginning?

    2. avatar John Boch says:

      Today was the first I’d heard of it. Obviously, if we are unaware of it, there’s precious little we can do. Besides, Michigan is a little out of our primary area of operation. Furthermore, Guns Save Life’s legal defense fund is for members only.

      Where was the the NRA? I don’t know. They may not have heard of it before now. I think it’s a safe bet that they know now. And I suspect there’s some political, behind the scenes communication going on to get her a pardon or something similar, either from PDJT or Michigan’s governor.

      Her environmental activism is probably why the Sierra Club has an interest in this. In my view, gun rights are for everyone, regardless of political perspective or employment. Yes, even reformed felons.

      John

    3. avatar Robert says:

      DON’T START BLAMING THE NRA IF YOU THINK THIS IS RACIST! The NRA was the FIRST organization in the US to welcome ALL Races (and sexes) – FROM DAY 1 of their formation!
      The NRA was THE organization that went into the South during Reconstruction after the Civil War, to train Southern Black families to defend themselves against the white-sheet wearers.
      The NRA trained MLK’s body guards, and the NRA STILL trains private citizens of all colors and walks of life in self-defense.
      WHERE WAS THE ACLU? WHERE WAS THE NAACP? WHERE WAS THAT RACIST FARRICON?
      Instead of blaming us in the NRA, why don’t YOU start up collecting $ to help her in her defense, in prosecuting the other person, and in filing civil suits against the police and the other person involved?

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “Instead of blaming us in the NRA, why don’t YOU start up collecting $ to help her in her defense,

        Uuuhhhhmmmm, like, because I totally don’t hold myself out as the premier 2A defender organization in the country? Like, because NRA and other name brands have the political and financial clout to hire attorneys who know what they are doing regarding RTKBA. Like, because NRA is not demonstrating unwavering defense of the second amendment. Like, because NRA is perfect (as you noted) at teaching marksmanship and safety with firearms, but they are out of their expertise in defending the second amendment. Like, because when you look at the history of NRA since 1993(?), NRA can’t even give itself an A+ rating.

  10. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    How does she get an illegal possession of a firearm charge?

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Commenter BC probably answered my question above.

  11. avatar barnbwt says:

    First pimping NRA memberships, now carry insurance?

    1. avatar David Deplorable says:

      Dude, only a fool doesn’t have ccw insurance!

      1. avatar Robert says:

        AGREED!

    2. avatar John Boch says:

      I personally believe the two listed are the best ones out there. That’s not to say there aren’t some other good ones. And a couple of less than ideal ones…

      Mention Guns Save Life or John Boch to Armed Citizens and save $25. I don’t get any kickbacks, commissions or premiums for plugging them. I mention them because I think they are the best value. And I love their little booklet they send out for free.

      https://www.armedcitizensnetwork.org/images/stories/Hayes_SDLaw.pdf

      1. avatar Kendahl says:

        ACLDN will not defend members who carry illegally.

      2. avatar barnbwt says:

        How’s that presidential Second Amendment coalition going, John? You guys gonna reveal your efforts at the convention this weekend?

  12. avatar FlamencoD says:

    Man, crappy story. Poor lady. I wonder why she didn’t drive off? Could she have? That seems like it would have been the best choice here.

    1. avatar Gralnok says:

      Lots of cars are nothing but tin cans with wheels and nothing to protect the vital engine bits. I wouldn’t be surprised if her car simply shut off because “You have been in an accident! Emergency services have been notified. Please remain calm.”

  13. avatar Gralnok says:

    All the more reason to have either carry insurance, or a plan on where to dump a body.

    Stories like this just reinforce the fact that cops are not to be trusted. You can ask them for help, but don’t rely upon them unless you absolutely have to.

  14. avatar DAVE F says:

    Like most things I read on post like this one we are only given part of the facts from one persons point of view and everyone starts commenting like they know the whole story. With this being said the only complete fact is she was found guilty by the jury. Without having all the facts can I or any one else really say this was or was not a just finding? The answer is no we can not. We all have a right to our opinions but opinions are not facts. With this in mind, please continual with your inputs. Thank you for your time.

    1. avatar Mark says:

      Have you ever had jury duty? In my experience, jurors are either trying to get out of it, or raging-butt-kissing-cop-suckers. My “peers” mostly have to “serve” without pay, while bored retirees & government employees beg to serve. Once the panel of “yes men” is empowered, then the careful spoon-feeding of selective facts is applied.

      Our legal system isn’t designed for fairness or justice, but to produce convictions, and its quite good at it. That’s why we have more people in prison than North Korea and Russia under Stalin combined.

      1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

        Do the norks and the soviet era prisoners that went straight into a shallow grave count as prisoners?

      2. avatar DAVE F says:

        Mark, I have proudly serviced my civic duty as a juror. I will take into consideration your admittance to your limited experience [and by your comments your showing of a lack of education also] as I proceed to address your input. However, before I start you never did state if you ever served on a jury. You only insinuated that your peers had. Having been a juror I can state as fact, not opinion, that your input, opinion, that a panel (called a jury) are “yes men” is definitely incorrect. I will agree with you that a jury is only given the facts that the prosecution/defense and sometimes the judge determine what the jury will hear. That, in my opinion, is a great part of the fallacy of our judicial system. The jury is called by law and sworn to hear evidence in a case and give a verdict but, how can you expect a just verdict to be handed down when evidence is withheld from the jury?! Hopefully from the above you can now see that jurors are not “yes men” but a product of ,in my opinion, a system that withholds evidence from them which in some instances could have made an impact on the verdict. It may surprise you but I also agree with you ,in my opinion, that our legal system is designed to produce convictions. Not just by doing what I stated above but also by piling on charges [ as I say” pile it on, throw it against the wall, then see what sticks”]. I can’t agree with you that our legal system isn’t designed for fairness or justice because the design is not broken however, the misuse of the design is a grievous injustice. As for your last comment, FACT: a country will most definitely have more people in prisons then other countries when the other countries just kills them other then putting them in prison. You just had to use Stalin to make your point. Now getting back to my original comment that you were trying to comment on, We do not have all the facts to draw a conclusion.

    2. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “Without having all the facts can I or any one else really say this was or was not a just finding?”

      You may be overlooking the implied qualifying statement: “Given only what we know at this moment…..”

  15. avatar ironicatbest says:

    The lesson to be learned from this is. .Dont bring a gun to a Demolition Derby, you’ll only get into trouble.

    1. avatar Springfield Armory Sucks says:

      …and do not live in a libtard state or city.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        This.

        This is an inbred product-of-anal-rape POS (D) MI.

        F em all.

  16. avatar little horn says:

    should have shot and killed that bitch. dead men don’t testify.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “should have shot and killed that bitch.”

      You raise an interesting question: “When does imminent threat become menacing or brandishing?”

      What we have is the apparent statement of the gun owner that she exited her vehicle, with gun in hand. This appears to indicate the gun owner did not believe the threat was so imminent that she would be in worse danger if she exited the vehicle (which provided some measure of safety from further collision.

      Essentially, did she exit a “safe space”, and voluntarily enter a zone of greater danger? Does such an action indicate the presence of an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm? Was the other driver attempting to ram the gun owner’s car again? Was the other driver stopped, and awaiting developments? If the other driver truly presented an “imminent threat”, should we have seen the gun owner firing shots from her window, windshield, across the passenger seat?

      When does a defensive gun use become simple menacing or brandishing? Do you know the answer for your locality? For all the localities you traverse?

      1. avatar Don says:

        More likely if there was conscious thought given the circumstances she exited the vehicle to A) Achieve a clear shot. B) Make herself and her self defense tool much more clearly visible. And C) Leave her daughter in the safe space while drawing off the attacker.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “A) Achieve a clear shot.”

          A possible motivation. However, the gun owner did not “take the shot”. This leaves us with questions about all those “unreported” DGUs. What is imminent about a deadly threat that abandons the attack simply because a gun is displayed.? Maybe if the attacker has hands on the victim, and the victim displays a gun. If the attacker disengages immediately, then we have a legitimate imminent threat that ended because of the display of a gun. But what about “get off my lawn” type incidents?

          In the present case, based on what was described in the posting, the gun owner was some distance from the attacker. Both cars appear to have been stationary. Where is the “imminent” threat? (this is just discussion because none of us were present at the incident). We do not know if the gun owner could have driven away (the other driver was not launching a second ramming attack?) from a non-imminent threat (her car may have been completely disabled. So….

          If the driver of the vehicle used in the ramming is stationary, sitting in that car, doing nothing, where is the “imminent” threat? Change venue: you are knocked to the ground by a larger person who smacked you with a piece of pipe. You are armed. The attacker stands where he initiated the attack. You are on the ground. There is no further movement from the attacker. Are you legally justified in shooting the attacker? Under the law, given the circumstances, has the attack ended? If the law considers the attack ended (because the attacker makes no further movement), would shooting the attacker create a second incident, an assault by you on a now non-threatening person?

  17. avatar Ken Bach says:

    This story’s viral explosion yesterday is a huge red flag.

    We’re seeing this picked up all over conservative and libertarian-leaning sites, and all the versions have one thing in common: No space given to the other side of the story whatsoever. Even the usually-reliable Reason only had the defendant’s story, plus an ad-hominem attack against the jury. Perhaps my Google-fu is failing me, but I couldn’t find anything from the outside that was any better.

    It would be really nice to find common cause with unlikely allies to right a wrong. But there’s probably a reason the jury voted to convict. If we’re not going to be told what that reason is, how can we judge this for ourselves?

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Bingo. While juries sometimes make boneheaded decisions, this whole narrative sounds very fishy. It makes it sound like the reporting woman just attacked this family out of the blue with her car, had the foresight to take a photo of someone pointing a gun at her, and then go to the police while the ‘victim’ was too busy taking her family to volunteer at a soup kitchen or something.

      We’re very much not getting the whole story here. The fact that she had a gun does not mean we should just accept that this is a travesty of justice against a gun owner and the reporting I’ve seen is all terribly one-sided.

  18. avatar Chris says:

    To be fair this article only provides the gun owner’s side of the story. It is a long held and erroneous myth that police always assume the reportee is the victim. Thanks to movies and television everyone thinks police work is an objective mathematical science instead of fallible humans making judgements with minimal info. Unfortunately the police rarely witness the events and write reports based on very circumstantial evidence not to mention that state and federal laws very often favor the criminal over the victim when it comes to evidence and proof regardless of whether a legally owned firearm was involved or not.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      The posting of the event here is not a legal document, or opinion. The incident does not attempt to provide legal analysis or judicial decision. What the posting does is underscore the complications of a DGU. Gives us an opportunity to move beyond knee-jerk sloganeering, and a proposition to dissect our understanding of DGUs, complications, legal thorns, and thinking through our own ideas about not only what we would do, but whether we clearly understand the concept of “imminent threat” justifying the legal use of a gun in self-defense.

  19. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Black lives matter and the Sierra Club are late to the table. It was an organization of white gun owners that came to the defense of Shaneen Allen in New Jersey. Even the Wapost wrote about it. Maybe the white liberals in the Sierra Club can prove how much they care about black people by working as hard as the folks did a New Jersey to save this mother in Michigan.
    This is how the white liberal works by complaining about the inaction of another group.

    All they are doing is projecting their own racist hatred onto the NRA. White liberals have a history of doing this.

    1. avatar Till says:

      A different article stated, Her mother is high up in the Sierra Club. That is why they are involved.

  20. avatar Hannibal says:

    I always take stories like this with a grain of salt because this and so many of the sources are basically told entirely from her view or based on statements of her lawyers.

    Regardless, if you’re in a situation where you HAVE to point a gun at someone you are in a situation where you better call the police afterwards to tell your side. If you don’t the system- including the jury- will probably think of you as a suspect hiding something.

    You may not like it, you may scream about your rights all you wan, but you ignore it at your legal peril. Juries are humans, not psychics.

  21. avatar Bob999 says:

    So, she had two choices in this scenario in Michigan: (1) Allow her daughter and herself to be killed, or (2) go to prison for 2-years. I think nearly all mothers would have taken option 2 without hesitation. I like to believe that there is a special room in hell for corrupt government officials who do that kind of stuff.

  22. avatar Brewski2k says:

    So the lesson here is if you feel your life or another person’s life is threatened and it’s necessary to grab your gat, then it’s best to end the threat permanently because the POS legal system will screw you if you let the perp get away.

    Got it.

  23. avatar Xsquid says:

    I firmly believe don’t pull it unless its a shooting situation and shoot to kill.

    That being said this is still a travesty of justice.

  24. avatar Duncan says:

    “Where is the NRA”? Good question.
    The answer; All too absent…

  25. avatar Matt Donovan says:

    This is why I never simply brandish or threaten with a firearm. If I am so threatened that my gun leaves it’s holster, your getting shot.

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