The trial of LaShawn Carson, the 28-year old Washington woman accused of shooting a gay man following an altercation at a Columbia Heights IHOP restaurant in March 2012, was delayed for an additional 12 days after government prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Carson’s lawyer, Patrick J. Christmas, told Superior Court Judge Michael Ryan at a Thursday hearing that they were ready to proceed with trial, but wanted to schedule the start date for jury selection and opening arguments at a ”more favorable” time.
Thursday marked exactly one-and-a-half years since Carson was apprehended by police and temporarily placed in prison as she awaited a preliminary hearing on the matter. Carson faces seven charges related to the IHOP shooting: one count of aggravated assault while knowingly armed; one count of assault with a dangerous weapon; two counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence; a count of unlawful possession of ammunition; one count of unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm; and a count of carrying a pistol without a license. Her new trial date is Oct. 8.
Carson was initially charged with one count of aggravated assault while armed, and experienced a number of delays – including a five-month window from August 2012 to January 2013 – where Carson never appeared in D.C. Superior Court, prompting Christmas to ask for a dismissal for violating Carson’s right to a speedy trial. Little more than a week later, the U.S. Attorney’s Office secured an indictment of Carson on all seven charges she currently faces.
Carson, who lives with her two young children and her mother, may leave her house during the day but has a court-imposed curfew during the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. as part of a high-intensity supervision program. She has been on that program since May 2012 by order of Superior Court Judge Frederick Sullivan following a felony status conference. According to the court’s Pretrial Services Agency (PSA), Carson has been in ”perfect compliance” with the terms of her release. Christmas previously argued at Carson’s felony status conference that Carson had been drinking and had armed herself with a gun for protection purposes prior to going out because she had been raped after a club outing a few years earlier.
According to charging documents, Carson and two companions were in the IHOP restaurant near the corner of 14th and Irving Street NW during the early morning hours of March 11, 2012, when they began harassing a gay man and two of his companions. A physical confrontation ensued between the victim and one of Carson’s friends. As the two men were being separated by an off-duty Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer, the gay man was shot, and Carson and her friends fled the scene.
The victim, who sustained injuries to his abdomen, was transported to Washington MedStar Hospital, treated and released.
Carson was later arrested by MPD following a two-week investigation. During the time, hundreds of LGBT people and allies took to the streets around Columbia Heights, the U Street corridor and the Dupont Circle neighborhood to protest an apparent spike in anti-LGBT violent attacks in addition to the IHOP shooting.