A white Missouri cop who ‘accidentally’ shot a black shoplifting suspect in the back has had her felony charge dropped after she had a ‘restorative justice’ video conference with the victim.
Julia Crews, 39, a 13-year police veteran from Ladue Police Department in Missouri, resigned in May 2019 – a month after she shot Ashley Fountain Hall, 36.
In her resignation letter, she called the shooting an ‘innocent mistake’.
The incident occurred when Crews responded to a call from Schnucks supermarket saying two women left the store without paying on April 23, 2019.
One woman, later identified as Hall, tried to run away when Crews said that she was under arrest.
According to KSDK, Crews put one handcuff on Hall, then there was a struggle.
Crews told Hall she was reaching for her taser and instead grabbed her service gun and shot Hall in her torso from behind.
All charges have been dropped against former Ladue police officer Julia Crews (right), 39, after a ‘restorative justice’ session earlier this month, which took place two years after she ‘accidentally’ shot alleged shoplifting suspect Ashley Fountain Hall (left), 36, in the back
Crews responded to the call after two Schnucks employees accused Hall of stealing a cart full of steak and seafood from the grocery store. She scuffled with Hall in the parking lot (pictured) before saying she was firing her taser and accidentally shooting her firearm
Instead of pursuing the traditional prosecuting system, Hall and Crews reached a solution through ‘restorative justice’ mediation where the two agreed to meet on a Zoom videoconference on November 5 (pictured)
The ex-cop was charged with second-degree assault – which has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison – and Hall spent nearly three weeks in the hospital with several organ injuries, including a lacerated stomach, a gunshot wound and fractured ribs.
Hall – who was already a stroke survivor – also had to have her spleen removed.
She told KSDK in an interview that she was dead upon arriving at the hospital but emergency personnel has resuscitated her.
Months after the shooting Hall hosted a news conference to say she forgave the officer and recalled Crews immediately regretting her actions.
Hall told her even helped Hall onto the gurney and into the ambulance, as reported by KSDK.
‘I felt like she was nervous or scared,’ Hall recalled of that day in April 2019, adding that the officer ‘was scaring me’.
According to a federal lawsuit filed by the victim last year, Crews apologized to Hall as she lay bleeding in the parking lot.
Two Schnucks employees accused Hall of stealing a cart full of steak and seafood from the grocery store.
However, she never charged with shoplifting and was instead at the store allegedly buying balloons for her mother’s birthday.
Her mother spoke to KSDK and said that the city of Ladue ‘didn’t give the proper training’ to Crews, adding that she should’ve known ‘the difference between a taser and a gun’.
Hall told the local news station that forgiveness is Christian but so is taking action.
But instead of charging Crews through the traditional justice system, Hall and Crews used ‘restorative justice’ mediation where the two agreed to meet on a Zoom video conference on November 5.
The meeting was organized by the St Louis County prosecuting attorney Wesley Bell two years after the shooting and one year after the city of Ladue agreed to a $2million settlement with Hall.
Hall told Bell that she didn’t want to see Crews go to jail.
The ‘restorative justice’ approach as an alternative to prosecution in the 1970s and allows people charged with committing crimes to reconcile with victims simply by talking to them.
It’s often used to settle nonviolent cases, is facilitated by a mediator and lets each party talk about how and why the crime happened to reach a solution.
Hall and Crews’s facilitator was the chief of the restorative justice program for Attorney General of DC Seema Gajwani.
Crews consistently maintained that the shooting was an accident and told KSDK through tears: ‘It destroyed my life and her life’
Hall and Crews’s facilitator was the chief of the restorative justice program for Attorney General of DC Seema Gajwani (pictured), who said the mediation was emotional and moving
Gajwani said on the approach: ‘Too often, the criminal justice system gets in the way of resolution and healing, even though that is what these two women wanted and needed.’
She added: ‘Ashley and Julia have the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever met. It was an honor to be a part of that conversation.’
This case was the first time the approach had been used in St Louis County and Bell told KDSK that it wouldn’t be the last.
Gajwani also noted that the mediation was incredibly emotional and moving, adding to KDSK that both women demonstrated vulnerability, bravery and compassion.
Crews consistently maintained that the shooting was an accident and told KSDK through tears: ‘It destroyed my life and her life.’
‘I was devastated,’ she said of trying to fire her taser after scuffling with Hall and instead shooting her gun.
‘I heard a pop… It was wrong. I was just shocked.
‘Because she stole from Schnucks? Nobody deserves to be shot for that,’ she added, likening the incident to a ‘living nightmare’.
Crews now hopes to return to work – although not at the police force – now that the charges have been dropped.