The Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office formally filed felony charges against a Sonora woman, a self-described leftist political activist, accused of assaulting a demonstrator at a medical freedom rally on Aug. 16.
Alexander "Sabine" Tischler, who is charged with alleged assault with a deadly weapon using a tripod, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger and misdemeanor battery, appeared in her first court hearing Friday afternoon before Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Frank Dougherty.
Tischler, out of custody and dressed in a purple button-down shirt and a "Baby Yoda" facemask, said in court she had not retained an attorney because she was still searching for one and wanted to review the charges before doing so.
The criminal complaint against her was filed on Thursday.
The charges stem from an incident at a medical freedom rally held in Courthouse Square in downtown Sonora on Aug. 16.
According to witness statements provided to The Union Democrat, Tischler allegedly swung a tripod at a man named Matthew McClintock during an argument with McClintock and his wife over Tischler's presence at the rally with a camera.
A widely disseminated eight-minute YouTube video titled "Freedom Rally for Choice - Health Care Workers" depicts the rally and Tischler's subsequent detainment by multiple men before the arrival of the Sonora police officers.
One of the men depicted grappling with Tischler is Aaron Rasmussen, who is identified in the complaint as the victim in the battery charge.
Tischler told The Union Democrat after the hearing on Friday that she believed she was targeted by the demonstrators and treated violently.
"It's a gross miscarraige of justice that they're charging me," she said.
Tischler's arrest prompted a mostly online discussion about the political underpinnings of the arrest, police use of force, and a divergence in opinion about who was to blame for what transpired.
The arrest even prompted a rare formal statement from Sonora Mayor Matt Hawkins in support of the Sonora Police officers and their conduct.
Tischler said she has various grievances with the police department over how she was treated and the nature of its investigation into the conditions leading to her arrest.
Tuolumne County Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Novelli, who prosecuted the case for the people on Friday, said she did not have a comment on the case.
Dougherty set a continued arraignment hearing for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 24.
The criminal complaint also includes charges against a 60-year-old man from Jamestown who was involved in the incident.
The identity of the man is known to The Union Democrat, but his name has not been released at this time because he was only charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest and concealing evidence.
Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at email@example.com or (209) 588-4526.