BRISTOL - A Bristol man accused of lighting a homeless womanâ€™s tent on fire while she was inside has been placed in a program that could spare him a conviction.
Shaka Shakir, 23, of no certain address in the city, appeared Tuesday in Bristol Superior Court, where he was enrolled in the judicial branchâ€™s Family Violence Education Program. He is scheduled to be in the program until Dec. 3, 2019.
Until that time, Shakir must avoid new arrests and take classes aimed at reducing domestic violence recidivism. If he completes all of his conditions, charges of attempted first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree breach of peace and third-degree criminal mischief will be dropped.
According to the police report, a woman on Nov. 5, at about 8:10 p.m., flagged down a police officer who was driving in the area of Center and North Main streets. The woman brought the officer to a burning tent near the railroad tracks, and firefighters responded to put out the flames.
The complainant said she had gotten into an argument with Shakir over the status of their relationship. Shakir, who at that time had been residing in a homeless shelter, allegedly rode his bike to where the victim was living in the tent. There, the two argued before she went back inside her tent - which she valued at $150.
Shortly thereafter, the victim alleges, she looked behind her and noticed that the tent was on fire. She was able to get out without any injuries. She said she saw Shakir watching the fire before he left the area.
During the hearing Tuesday, state prosecutor Ronald Dearstyne said he originally planned to offer Shakir - who has no prior convictions - a plea deal that would have included pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge. After becoming aware that the complainant did not wish to pursue charges and had no safety concerns, Dearstyne said, he opted not to object to Shakir using a program.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Justin Muszynski on Twitter @muszynskiBP.