A police officer in a suburban St. Louis town has been hit with a felony charge after she fired her weapon on a shoplifting suspect instead of her Taser.
Julia Crews was charged with second-degree assault Wednesday, May 1 in connection to the incident against Ashley Hall. St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell determined her actions at the St. Louis-based supermarket Schnucks on April 23 fit the charges.
“It is our position that the officer’s actions were reckless,” Bell said at a news conference according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
State law defines second-degree assault as recklessly causing physical injury to another person with a firearm, or recklessly causing serious physical injury to another person. Crews faces one to seven years in prison if convicted.
The officer, who is on administrative leave amid an investigation, was booked Wednesday afternoon and held on $20,000 bond. She posted $2,000 of that and was released.
Last Tuesday, Crews arrived at the Ladue Shopping Center, where a Schnucks spokesperson told 5 On Your Side two women left without paying. When the 13-year Ladue Police Department veteran stopped one of the women, the spokesperson said, a struggle ensued.
Charging documents said the woman, whose family identified her as 33-year-old Ashley Hall, tried to flee and was evading arrest when Crews announced she was going to use her Taser. But rather than grabbing the electrical weapon on her left hip, Crews picked up her 9 mm Glock from her right hip, her attorney Travis Noble detailed at a news conference. He said at once his client “realized her mistake and immediately rendered first aid.”
“It will be very apparent on her face that this is nothing more than a tragic accident,” Noble said, according to the Post-Dispatch. “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.”
Bell said he agreed with Noble’s statement that his client warned Hall about using the Taser, but said Hall did not pose a threat to Crews.
“In this case, the officer’s safety was never in question,” Bell said.e
Presently, Hall, a mother of five who is soon to become a grandmother, remains hospitalized. Bell said at the presser that Hall is “very serious condition,” but the newspaper reported she is expected to survive her injuries.
Hall’s family said she was on life support Wednesday and suffers from at least two broken ribs. Additionally, she had collapsed lungs and part of her small intestine had to be removed. Since doctors are keeping her sedated, her father, Robert Hall Sr., said she’s been unable to talk.
He also said his daughter was “fighting for her life” after five surgeries.
Officials said Hall was shot once, with an entrance and exit wound, but the family says otherwise. They think she was hit two times, once in the stomach and another time in the sternum.
Regardless, Hall’s mother, Karen Carter, said she is not resentful.
“I’m not angry,” she said. “I have to have mercy in my heart … and right now I need everyone to pray for my daughter.”