LADUE, Mo. – The Ladue police officer who shot a shoplifting suspect woman is facing a felony charge.
Julia Crews, 37, was charged with second-degree assault by St. Louis County prosecutors.
The incident happened on April 23 at the Ladue Shopping Center. A spokesperson for Schnucks said two women left without paying and when Crews stopped one of the women in the parking lot, there was a struggle.
According to charging documents, the woman tried to run away and was avoiding arrest when Crews announced she was going to deploy her taser. Instead, charges said she drew her service weapon and shot the suspect in the torso.
The woman shot has been identified by family as Ashley Hall.
The family of Ashely Hall said they are seeking justice for her, but that they have already forgiven Officer Crews.
"I’m going to pray for her and pray for my daughter at the same time. I’m trying to be humble and be the good Christian I was taught to be," said Karen Carter, Hall's mother.
Travis Noble, the lawyer representing Officer Crews said his client made a mistake by pulling her gun instead of her taser.
"It will be very apparent on her face that this is nothing more than a tragic accident," Noble said. "She’s devastated about this. She’s never pulled her gun and I don’t know if she’s ever pulled her taser as a Ladue Police Officer.”
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the charges.
Bell said Crews' actions were “reckless” and that internal review committee and law enforcement agreed that charges should be filed.
The woman shot remains hospitalized and is in 'very serious condition,' Bell said in a Wednesday press conference.
He said Crews' said "taser," but instead fired her gun. Bell also said Crews' safety was never in question during the incident.
Crews' bond is set at $20,000. She faces one to seven years in prison.
5 On Your Side talked to her attorney earlier this week. Travis Noble is defending his client's actions and said it was an accident.
She's served the city for 13 years. Noble said she never even pulled a taser before the April 23 shooting. She is on administrative leave during the investigation.
"She's obviously very devastated on what happened an absolutely tragic accident. This was a circumstance, heat of the moment, split second, she's in chase. She thought she pulled the taser, screams the command, 'taser taser taser'," Noble tells us.
Noble defends the officer and said there's a whole body of research behind weapon confusion since it has to do a lot with muscle memory.
"As departments, we train constantly for firearm training and training for tasers, you may train once a year," Noble adds.
City of Ladue statement
“We are heartbroken over the course of events in the last week,” said City of Ladue Mayor Nancy Spewak. “We take great pride in our community policing efforts, and we strive to treat every member of the public with respect and integrity, despite the natural conflicts that occur when police are called to aid a potential criminal situation. We are committed to doing everything in our power to learn from this and to minimize the potential of incidents like this in the future. We are grateful the person involved in this matter is on her way to recovery. I want to offer my continued support to her family and to all of the men and women of the Ladue Police Department. This has been a difficult time for all of us.”