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Woman Who Grabbed Baton During Skid Row Police Shooting Sentenced

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A woman who was arrested after she picked up a police baton during a fatal encounter between the LAPD and a homeless man on Skid Row has been sentenced.

Trishawn Cardessa Carey, 35, was sentenced today to three years of probation along with a mental health treatment program after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor count of obstructing or resisting a police officer, City News Service reports. Carey previously rejected a plea deal in which she would have pleaded guilty to a felony count of resisting an officer at the advice of her attorney, Milton Grimes, according to the L.A. Times. Though Carey would have only received probation for that charge as well, Grimes said he was worried that his client, who he described as mentally ill, would wind up back in jail for a minor offense should she be convicted of a felony. Without the plea deal, Carey could have faced life in prison if she had been convicted of assault. That particular charge, however, was ultimately dropped, and the other felony count of resisting a peace officer was reduced to a misdemeanor.

The incident occurred on March 1, 2015. LAPD officers approached 39-year-old Charley "Africa" Keunang because they said they believed he was a robbery suspect. During the ensuing scuffle with police, the officers claimed that Keunang reached for a rookie officer's weapon, prompting them to open fire. Keunang was shot six times, and died at the scene.

During the fight, Carey picked up a baton that one of the officers had dropped. She was seen in a video recorded by a bystander holding up the weapon, but was tackled to the ground by two officers and detained only a few seconds later.

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At that time, Carey was homeless. She is also an insulin-dependent diabetic who has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Grimes said that his client recently found out that she would be receiving an apartment and "lit up like a Christmas tree."

Though Keunang's death sparked a number of protests, the Los Angeles Police Commission ultimately cleared the officers in the shooting. His family has filed a claim against the City of Los Angeles and the LAPD.