Ladue, MO – A veteran Ladue police officer has resigned from the force, after she was criminally charged for shooting a shoplifting suspect she intended to tase.
Former Ladue Police Officer Julia Crews, 37, submitted her resignation just days after she was charged with felony second-degree assault, KSDK reported.
The incident occurred at the Ladue Shopping Center on April 23, after two women allegedly left a store without paying for merchandise.
Officer Crews intercepted one of the female suspects in the parking lot, where a struggle ensued.
The suspect, later identified as Ashley Hall, tried to flee from the veteran officer, who then warned her that she was going to deploy her Taser.
But instead of drawing her Taser, Officer Crews pulled her duty weapon, and shot Hall in the torso.
Hall was rushed to a local hospital, where she was placed on a ventilator, her family told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The 33-year-old suspect is a mother of five children, who range in age from two to 17.
Her 17-year-old daughter is currently pregnant with Hall’s first grandchild, her family said.
“I’m a Christian, and I’m praying for the officer and for my daughter right now,” Hall’s mother, Karen Carter, told the paper.
The veteran officer’s attorney, Travis Noble, said that she is devastated by her mistake, and that she had never drawn her Taser during her 13-year career with the department.
The entire situation was a “tragic accident,” Noble said.
"She's obviously very devastated on what happened an absolutely tragic accident,” he told KDSK. “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 said he believes muscle memory from Officer Crews’ firearms training likely played a role in the incident.
“[Police] train constantly for firearm training,” he noted. “For Tasers, you may train once a year.”
“What happens is that muscle memory, you're in a high-stress situation, you’re running, you become tunnel vision and a muscle memory, you naturally go, you know what you’ve done the last thousand times, not what you’ve done the last two times in training,” Noble told KMOV.
But St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell argued that Officer Crews was “reckless” during the altercation, and alleged that her safety was never at risk, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Law enforcement officials and an internal review committee agreed that she should face charges, Bell added.
Noble said that part of the reason Officer Crews decided to resign from the force was to make sure she was not “a distraction to the Ladue Police Department and other police officers and the citizens of Ladue,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“It is with heavy heart that I hereby officially resign my employment as a police officer of the city of Ladue,” the veteran officer wrote in her resignation letter on May 3.
“As I expressed the day of the April 23 shooting incident, I continue to pray for the full and speedy recovery of [Hall] who suffered injuries as a result of an innocent mistake,” she continued. “I wish for the best for everyone involved and for everyone going forward.”
Crews faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, KSDK reported.
Ladue Mayor Nancy Spewak said she is “heartbroken” over the incident, and that the city police department is working to make sure that something like this never happens again.
“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,” Spewak said. “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.”
The mayor said she is thankful that Hall is recovering from her wound.
“I want to offer my continued support to her family and to all of the men and women of the Ladue Police Department,” she added. “This has been a difficult time for all of us.”
Crews’ supporters have established a fundraising page to gather donations for her “upcoming expenses.”
“Julia is devastated by the events that occurred,” the page read. “She is a mother, wife and wonderful friend to many. She has touched many lives."
The fund has raised nearly $25,000.
Crews is currently out of jail, having posted 10 percent of her $20,000 bail, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.