On April 23, 2019, a police officer of the affluent suburb of Ladue, Missouri, was called to investigate two women accused of shoplifting at a grocery store. One of those women, who is Black, was also accused of assaulting a store employee. When the officer arrived at the scene the Black woman was already being restrained by other grocery store workers, but she attempted to break away from the police so the officer felt the need to draw her taser and shoot the Black woman in the back—only it wasn’t a taser.
That’s right, like the killers of Oscar Grant and Daunte Wright, this supposedly trained police officer claimed that she mistook her service weapon for a taser when she shot the woman. Fortunately, her victim survived. Unfortunately, this will be yet another case where a trigger-happy police officer is not held accountable as charges were dropped against the Missouri cop after she and her victim participated in what is known as “restorative justice mediation,” which took place on November 5, and resulted in the victim requesting charges be dropped against the officer.
According to the Associated Press, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said Monday that Ashley Fountain Hall, the Black woman who, along with another woman, was suspected of taking a grocery cart of steaks and seafood without paying, requested that charges be dropped against former officer Julia Crews, who resigned following the shooting.
Prosecutor Wesley Bell said in a press release that Crews and Hall agreed to participate in the restorative justice mediation via video conference.
“This was a unique opportunity where the defendant immediately realized she had made a terrible mistake in shooting the victim, and both the defendant and victim reached places where they could see a resolution for this incident outside of the criminal justice process,” Bell said.
Last year, the city of Ladue approved a $2 million settlement for a lawsuit filed by Hall stating that she only tried to evade police out of fear of being shot while unarmed due to the history of unarmed Black people “being shot by white officers.” The irony of a Black person playing the “I was in fear for my life” card to justify running from police would be amusing if not for the fact that Hall’s fear of being shot by a white cop while unarmed had turned into a reality.
Crews being cleared of all charges only serves to strengthen the message that police violence and Black victims are no recipe for justice and that crying blueish-white tears can easily get a cop cleared of all wrongdoing—even if it takes a “let’s all get along” sit down with the victim. It’s also hard not to speculate that Hall might have received a little legal pressure to request that charges against Crews be dropped.
I’m just saying, Crews wasn’t the first cop to excuse an unjust shooting by saying, “Oops, that’s not my taser,” and she certainly won’t be the last.