Conviction overturned for Detroit mother who defended herself with unloaded gun

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter, Kayla Clarke

DETROIT - Michigan's court of appeals has reversed the convictions of a Detroit mother who stood her ground and pointed an unloaded weapon at a woman who had rammed her car.

Siwatu-Salama Ra is an environmental justice organizer with no prior convictions. In 2017, Ra got into an argument with another woman who was a convicted felon. The woman hit Ra's car, which Ra's 2-year-old daughter was in at the time.

Ra, to ward off further attack, said she pulled her licensed, unloaded firearm to get the woman to back off. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office charged her with assault and felony firearm. The appeals court has vacated her convictions because it ruled the Wayne County Circuit Court judge didn't give the jury correct instructions about the use of non-deadly force in self-defense.

“This is one of the worst trial transcripts I’ve seen,” attorney Wade Fink, who won the appeal, said.

The case attracted supporters with vastly different ideologies. Liberals said she was the victim of racial injustice, while conservatives said she had the right to stand her ground and defend herself. The NRA showed its support for her.

After she was convicted, Ra was sent to prison where she gave birth to her son. She said giving birth to Zakai while in prison was heartbreaking.

“Not being able to breastfeed him, not having me to console him and to be his mom for the first six months of his life,” Ra breaks into tears. “He felt it, I felt it, my body felt it.”

With the convictions vacated it’s now up to the Wayne County Prosecutors Office to decide whether Ra will be retried.

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