House Arrest for IHOP-Shooting Suspect

Judge releases woman accused in anti-LGBT IHOP shooting to house arrest over prosecution's objection

By John Riley
Published on May 3, 2012, 1:19pm | Comments

The woman arrested and charged with shooting a gay man following an altercation at a Columbia Heights IHOP restaurant has been placed under house arrest as she awaits a felony status hearing.

LaShawn Carson, 27, of D.C., faces a charge of aggravated assault while armed for allegedly shooting at the victim and his two companions during the early morning hours of March 11. No bias enhancements have been added to the charge.

Appearing in D.C. Superior Court with her lawyer, Patrick J. Christmas, before Magistrate Judge Frederick J. Sullivan this morning, Carson waived her right to a preliminary hearing, meaning her trial can move forward without Sullivan having to find probable cause that she might have committed the crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Dickie asked that Carson be held without bond because there were ''no conditions that would ensure the safety of the community.'' Dickie argued that the violent nature of the shooting, that the suspect allegedly carried and used a gun in a crowded restaurant, and the weight of evidence against her – including video surveillance tapes of the incident and her own admission of guilt to police – indicated that Carson posed a danger to the community.

But Christmas told Sullivan that he should be more lenient on Carson, a mother of two young children. Christmas told Sullivan that Carson had gone to a club the night before and had been drinking prior to the incident. Christmas also said that Carson was carrying a gun at the time because she had been raped after a club outing a few years earlier.

Sullivan seemed to side with Christmas and pushed back against Dickie's claims, arguing that because Carson did not know the victim, and because she does not have a prior criminal record, she poses less of a danger and could likely be kept under home confinement if she qualified for a ''high intensity supervision program,'' or HISP.

''There will be plenty of time to punish her. It's just do I keep her here or send her home?'' Sullivan said of Carson. ''This is a one-time event. If I send her home, put an ankle bracelet on her, and confine her to her house, that should protect the community.''

Sullivan said that being held without bond is usually a measure intended for cases where there is a possibility of a repeat offense, such as drug dealers.

In response, Dickie argued that Carson's shooting the victim in a crowded restaurant was a serious offense that was more serious than drugs, prompting a retort from Sullivan.

''I disagree with you,'' Sullivan said. ''A drug dealer affects the whole community, ruins lives, and creates more murders. This is a one-time event. I can confine her to her house, and we'll save space at the jail, and we'll save the government a lot of money.''

Carson was released and will be fitted with an electronic monitor May 4. She has been scheduled for a felony status hearing May 22.

Carson was arrested March 26 following an investigation into the shooting. According to police reports, Carson and two other suspects had repeatedly harassed the victim and his companions by making derogatory comments and using homophobic slurs while the group ate at the IHOP restaurant. Later, one of Carson's accomplices became involved in a physical confrontation with the victim, with both exchanging blows.

According to witnesses, an off-duty police officer managed to separate the two fighting when the sound of a gunshot was heard and the three suspects fled the scene. The victim, who was shot in the abdomen, was transported to Washington MedStar Hospital, treated for his injuries and released.