Imagine having to watch someone continually run their car into yours, while your child was on the inside.
Well, this nightmare quickly became a reality for Siwatu-Salama Ra as she watched her neighbor, Channel Harvey, crash her car into Ra’s car while her two-year-old daughter was inside.
Channel had a personal dispute with Ra, but took it out on her property and her daughter, while Ra stood by watching it happen. In retaliation, Ra took her handgun from the glove compartment, which was legally purchased, and waved it at Channel to scare her off.
The twenty-six-year-old black mother was arrested for felonious assault, while the assailant, Channel Harvey, was never charged with anything. As Channel roams free, Ra is serving a mandatory two-year-sentence, for protecting her daughter and family.
Despite Michigan’s stance as a “Stand Your Ground” state, which calls for defendants to use force without retreating in order to protect, Ra was indicted on the charges for getting her handgun.
Not only is Ra serving out her two years in prison, but she is also expected to give birth while in prison.
According to the Detroit Metro Times, The Root, and Democracy Now!, there were many criminal justice failures seen throughout the entirety of this case. One of the main problems seen in the trial was when it ended deliberations early. The jury wanted to finish the case before a snowstorm hit the area, so they ended the deliberations earlier.
There were also problems with the Detroit Police Department, as they treated Harvey as the victim, regardless of the fact that Harvey had run her car into Ra’s. Apparently, Harvey was the first to arrive at the Police Department, which is what triggered the police to deem her as the victim.
Victoria Burton-Harris, Ra’s attorney, informed that the conflict arose between Ra and Harvey due to a conflict with their nieces. Ra and Harvey’s nieces both attend the same school and got into a fight at school. Ra stated that Harvey’s niece beat up Ra’s niece, which triggered hard feelings and anger between the neighbors.
Despite the fight, Harvey continued to bring her niece to Ra’s household, even though she was not welcomed.
Burton-Harris told Democracy Now!:
Siwatu called her sister herself and found out from her sister that there was no permission given for this young lady to be at the family home that day visiting, and therefore Siwatu informed the young lady that she needed to call her mother to come back and pick her up….
And so, the mother arrived about 10 minutes later to pick the child up. She was very upset, irate even. She pulled back up to Siwatu’s family’s home. She started yelling, using profanity. She was very angry. She started demanding answers. “Why can’t my child be here? These girls have made up. Your niece has come to my home over the last two weeks. I don’t understand.” And she testified at trial that she thought she had a right to be on that property and to demand answers as to why her child was not welcome there. And that’s where this incident started.
Ra asked her to leave many times, but she would not. According to Burton-Harris, the agitation grew until Harvey ran her car into Ra’s, despite knowing Ra’s two-year-old daughter was inside of it.
Harvey continued to repeatedly back her car into Ra’s with the child inside. Ra took action, grabbing her handgun from her car, scaring off her deranged neighbor.
Harvey grabbed her phone just in time to snap a photo of Ra holding her gun, which she then immediately brought to the Detroit Police Station.
Because Harvey arrived first, the police considered her the victim in the case. Reason‘s requested a comment from the Detroit Police Department but has not heard back, but multiple police confirmed this policy is true, the Detroit Metro Times stated.
Due to the fact that Harvey filed a complaint first, the Michigan law, Stand Your Ground, does not apply. The legal counsel decided that Ra was not acting in self-defense but was instead committing a crime.
Ultimately, Ra was charged with two counts of felony assault: one against Harvey, and one against Harvey’s daughter.
Ra was also denied the right to a fair trial:
The jury was told the trial would likely only last two days, but it didn’t begin deliberations until midway through Thursday—the fourth day. The forecast called for a blizzard on Friday, and the judge told the jury that it would return to court regardless of the weather if it didn’t arrive at a decision. (It’s worth noting that the court did close on Friday.)
Burton-Harris adds that the jury wasn’t aware that Ra would receive a two-year prison sentence were she found guilty of any of the felony firearm charges because juries aren’t informed of mandatory sentences.
When the jury began deliberations with the snowstorm looming, it could be heard hotly debating the case from the jury room, Burton-Harris says. Still, it quickly came to a decision—guilty on one charge of felonious assault against Harvey, acquittal on a second felonious assault charge against Harvey’s daughter, and guilty on the felony firearm possession charge.
You can decide for yourself, but from the evidence presented, it seems that the court’s decision to indict Ra made absolutely no sense. Essentially they are teaching fellow Michigan residents that if someone is putting the life of your child at risk, don’t do anything because you could go to jail.
Due to a desire for a three-day-weekend, a jury chose to place an expectant mother who was practicing lawful self-defense in jail.
Many groups have expressed their negative opinions on the case including the Sierra Club and Black Lives Matter. We would not be surprised if the National Rifle Association spoke up regarding Ra’s indictment considering she was using a legal firearm for protection.