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.
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.