Black Lives Matter leader convicted of interfering in arrest

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 29: Demonstrators march on Ontario St. on December 29, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors took to the street the day after a grand jury declined to indict Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann for the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
Caption
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 29: Demonstrators march on Ontario St. on December 29, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors took to the street the day after a grand jury declined to indict Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann for the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

Credit: Angelo Merendino

Credit: Angelo Merendino

A jury found a Black Lives Matter leader guilty of interfering with an arrest after prosecutors said she attempted to incite a riot after officers in California arrested a woman suspected of dining and ditching, according to multiple reports.

Explore>> Read more trending stories

Police arrested 28-year-old Jasmine Richards, leader of Black Lives Matter Pasadena, on one count of taking a person from lawful police custody by means of a riot in September 2015. Under California law, the crime was previously referred to as “lynching,” although the term was taken out of the penal code in July 2015.

A jury on Wednesday found Richards guilty. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

“The facts presented at trial did not support the charge,” Richards' attorney, Nana Gyamfi, said in May. “Attempted lynching requires a person to attempt to unlawfully take a person from the lawful custody of a peace officer. It also includes an element of inciting a riot to do so. The historical use is to charge a crime of lynching when the lynch mob takes the black person out of the custody of police for the purpose of lynching the black person.”

Officers arrested Richards after officers detained a 20-year-old black woman who was accused of leaving a restaurant without paying for her meal, according to Pasadena News Now.

Richards and a handful of Black Lives Matter supporters watched from a nearby park as Benita Gina Escoe and the restaurant's owners argued on Aug. 29, 2015. The woman took refuge among the protesters, according to Pasadena News Now.

Officers attempted to arrest her when she separated from the group.

“When the officers attempted to detain her then, part of the Black Lives Matter protest group attempted to intercede,” Pasadena Police Lt. Tracey Ibarra told Pasadena News Now.

Authorities arrested Richards a few days after the incident. Escoe was charged with battery in connection with the confrontation at the restaurant.

Richards is scheduled to be sentenced next week in Pasadena.