Homeless woman who picked up LAPD nightstick rejects plea deal

Trishawn Carey at the sober living center in South Los Angeles where she is staying after getting out of jail on bail.

Trishawn Carey at the sober living center in South Los Angeles where she is staying after getting out of jail on bail.

(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

A mentally ill homeless woman potentially facing life in prison for raising an LAPD nightstick during a fatal police shooting on skid row rejected a plea deal Thursday that would have required her to admit to a felony, the district attorney’s office and her defense lawyer said.

Under the deal, Trishawn Carey would have pleaded guilty to a felony count of resisting an officer, been placed on probation and evaluated by a medical professional for assignment to a “suitable” mental health treatment program, according to a statement from Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey’s spokeswoman.

Defense attorney Milton Grimes said he did not want Carey accepting a felony conviction that could land her back in jail for a minor probation violation.


“She’s mentally ill,” Grimes said. “I don’t think it was a felony offense. ... I’m tired of seeing people get felonies and go on probation and some little thing they’re back in jail.”

The prosecution also wanted Carey moved from a residential program, A New Way of Life Reentry Project, where she is “doing very well,” said the program director, Susan Burton.

Lacey, who has made keeping mentally ill people out of jail a hallmark of her reform agenda, said last month that she had been unaware of Carey’s charges or mental illness and ordered a case review.

A spokeswoman for Lacey on Thursday did not respond when asked what the review found, or why Lacey’s office offered Carey reduced charges.

Carey, who has an extensive history of medical and mental health issues, faced life in prison if convicted on a charge of assault brought under California’s tough three-strikes sentencing law for repeat offenders.

She was arrested March 1 for lifting a baton an officer had dropped during a police tussle with Charly Keunang, who was also homeless and living on skid row. During the struggle, police shot and killed Keunang, who was unarmed, and later said he grabbed one of the officers’ holstered gun.


The family sued, saying police body cam footage dispute the police account.

An insulin-dependent diabetic, Carey had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and cycled in and out of Los Angeles County jails 10 times since 2002, a report to the court said. Last month she was ordered released on bail to A New Way of Life, a sober living residential program for women leaving jail or prison.

The sheriff’s department took her by ambulance to the back entrance of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, and supporters tracked her down on skid row.

Authorities said the release was a mistake and that it illustrated holes in county systems that Lacey and Sheriff Jim McDonnell are trying to plug as they work to reduce the 3,000 mentally ill people in the L.A. County jail system -- about one-fifth of all inmates.

Twitter: @geholland