Black Woman Shot in Back By White Cop Drops Charges After Mediation Session

A former suburban St. Louis police officer who shot a shoplifting suspect will have assault charges against her dropped, a decision reached Monday after the victim and the ex-officer participated in a mediation session together, the Associated Press reported.

Julia Crews, 39, shot Ashley Fountain Hall on April 23, 2019, after Hall was accused of stealing from a local grocery store in Ladue, Missouri. Hall and another woman were accused of taking a grocery cart full of steaks and seafood without paying and hitting a grocery worker in the face. The store workers followed the women outside and kept them in the parking lot until police arrived.

Crews arrived at the scene and said she intended to deploy her taser to restrain Hall but mistakenly pulled out her service firearm instead, and shot Hall in the back. Crews resigned after the shooting incident.

Hall asked for the dismissal of charges against Crews after the process known as restorative justice mediation that took place on November 5.

"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," Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said in a news release.

The case is similar to that of Daunte Wright and police Officer Kim Potter, who, on April 11, 2021, fatally shot Wright, claiming it was a mistake. Wright was pulled over for a traffic stop and police body camera footage shows Potter approaching Wright outside of his car as another officer is arresting him. As Wright tries to resist the arrest, Potter shouts for him to stop saying, "I'll Tase you! I'll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!" and then fires a single shot from a gun in her right hand.

The city's police chief, who resigned along with Potter after Wright's shooting, claimed Potter shot Wright by accident because she mistook the firearm for a taser.

Experts told AP that cases of officers mistakenly firing their gun instead of a Taser are rare, usually occurring less than once a year in America.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Julia Crews
A former suburban St. Louis police officer who shot a shoplifting suspect will have assault charges against her dropped after the victim and the ex-officer participated in a mediation session together. This undated photo provided by the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office shows Julia Crews. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office/Associated Press

Bell's office said Crews and Hall agreed to participate in restorative justice mediation conducted through a videoconference. In the restorative justice process, the victim and the offender work together toward a resolution, typically with the help of a facilitator.

In this case, the volunteer facilitator was Seema Gajwani, chief of the Restorative Justice Program for District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine. Bell and Lisa Jones, his office's manager of victim services, also participated.

Last year, the city of Ladue agreed to pay $2 million to settle Hall's lawsuit. The suit said Hall tried to break away from police in fear prompted by the history of Black people who aren't armed "being shot by white officers." The city admitted no wrongdoing in the confidential settlement.