The government’s offer called for keeping in place the charge of aggravated assault while armed filed against Lashawn Yvonne Carson, 27, at the time of her arrest. However, the offer included a recommendation that she be sentenced to seven years in jail for an offense that carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a possible fine of $10,000.
D.C. Superior Court Judge J. Michael Ryan, who presided over the hearing, said the case would be sent to a grand jury, which observers said could indict Carson on the aggravated assault while armed charge as well as other charges, including a more severe charge of assault with intent to kill and the listing of the case as a hate crime.
D.C. police initially classified the case as an anti-gay hate crime. The U.S. Attorney’s office dropped the hate crime designation when it filed the case in court. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office said its prosecutors normally hold off on deciding whether to list cases as hate crimes until they are presented before a grand jury.
According to accounts by police and witnesses, Carson allegedly shot the victim in the abdomen about 6:30 a.m. on March 11 near the lobby of the IHOP restaurant after an off-duty D.C. police officer broke up a physical altercation between Carson and several of her friends and the victim and at least two of his friends.
A police arrest affidavit says the altercation began after people sitting with Carson at the restaurant made anti-gay remarks toward the victim and people sitting with him.
The affidavit says video footage taken by a surveillance camera at the IHOP shows Carson walking up to the victim after the police officer stopped the two parties from fighting. The affidavit says the video shows Carson firing a single shot that struck the victim, who is shown clutching his abdomen and falling to the floor.
The victim recovered from what police said was a serious but non-life threatening wound to his liver. Carson was initially held without bond. On May 3, another judge agreed to release her to home confinement, with the requirement that she wear an electronic ankle bracelet.
Carson wore the ankle bracelet in court on Tuesday. Her attorney, Patrick Christmas, told the court that Carson, who is pregnant, has complied with all requirements of the home release order issued on May 3 by Judge Magistrate Frederick Sullivan.
William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said that while the maximum sentence for aggravated assault while armed is 30 years in prison, the court’s guidelines for such a charge range from a four to ten year prison term depending on the circumstances of individual cases.
Gay D.C. attorney Dale Edwin Sanders, who practices criminal law in D.C. and Virginia, called the seven-year sentence offered by the government “a real good offer” given the fact that Carson’s action was captured on video.
“I would take that in a heartbeat,” he said.
Christmas, Carson’s attorney, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.