A homeless woman is facing life in prison for picking up a baton while police scuffled with another homeless person on Skid Row before executing him. We reported on this horrific incident back in March after a video was posted on Facebook.

Trishawn Cardessa Carey (white shirt in the video) was nearby when numerous police officers began wrestling with Charly Keunang after tasering him and dragging him out of a tent. As Keunang was thrown to the ground, a police officer dropped a baton. Carey, in the heat of the moment, picked up the baton and raised it, and then cops swiftly tackled her to the ground.

For this harmless act, Carey was charged with resisting arrest and assault with a deadly weapon. It is clear from the video there was no resisting, but more disturbing is the idea that raising a baton is being considered assault with a deadly weapon.

Deputy District Attorney Gregory Denton states that picking up and raising the baton constituted an attempt to attack the officer, even though she did not swing it.  In ambiguous cases like this, prosecutors have discretion in charging decisions, but Denton apparently has no hesitation in going for the most serious charge.

Defense attorneys are saying there was no assault, and “The legal basis appears to me to be a distraction or cover-up of the killing of a man by the police.

The harsh charge of assault with a deadly weapon is the third offense for Carey, putting her under California’s draconian “three strikes law.”  Carey has been in jail since the March incident, with an initial bail of $1 million. On July 22 a judge reduced the bail to $50,000, which is still far beyond the ability of Carey or her acquaintances to pay.

Carey is mentally ill and has experienced a difficult upbringing, including her mother steering her into prostitution at age 14.  Defense lawyers argue that she should be out of jail getting treatment.  But none of this matters to the deputy DA or an uncompromising three strikes law. It is another sad example of a broken justice system where the heaviest weight falls on the poor and sick.

Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.