A Missouri police officer has been arrested for shooting a shoplifting suspect last week outside of a Schnucks grocery store.
St. Louis County prosecutors charged Ladue Police Officer Julia Crews, 37, with second-degree assault for shooting a 33-year-old woman. The victim, identified by her family as Ashley Hall, remains in the hospital but is expected to survive.
In a statement released to River Front Times, attorneys for Crews say the officer was trying to pull out a Taser gun, but instead took out her pistol and fired.
Crews' lawyer, Travis Noble, called the incident a "tragic accident."
According to St. Louis County Police, Ladue police received reports of an attempted shoplifting around 3 p.m. on April 23. Witnesses say Hall and another suspect tried to steal a shopping cart full of groceries after only paying for a few items.
When employees stopped the two at the front door, Hall’s friend ran away while she stayed to gather the items. As Hall tried to flee the store, she tripped and was helped up by another staff member who did not know she was trying to take the items.
She allegedly hit the employee in the face and tried to exit when Crews approached the scene.
When Crews attempted to handcuff Hall, a scuffle ensued before Hall began running away.
Crews then reached for her Taser, but instead drew her firearm and fired once, hitting Hall in the abdomen, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"She feels terrible," Noble said of his client. "She's devastated."
St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, who filed the charges against Crews, said the shooting was criminally reckless. After the charges were announced, Hall’s relatives spoke to reporters outside the courthouse.
"She's fighting for her life," Robert Hall, Ashley’s father, said.
He and other family members say the shooting should never have happened and the officer was too aggressive, even if she would have only used her Taser.
After the incident, protesters marched outside the Schnuck’s holding signs that read, “Black Lives Matter.”
The shoplifting allegations are still under investigation, Bell says.
Crews, who has been a Ladue police officer for 13 years, faces up to seven years in prison.