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More information was released Tuesday over the fatal police shooting of Renee Davis, a 23-year-old Native American woman, who authorities said ignored repeated commands to drop her weapon at her home in northwestern Washington state.
Two King County Sheriff’s deputies reportedly arrived at Davis’ home on Oct. 21 on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation in Auburn, Washington, to check on her welfare. Davis’ boyfriend reportedly alerted authorities after he received a text message from her that said, “Well come get the girls or call 911 I’m about to shoot myself.”
The boyfriend also showed a text photo sent from Davis that showed “fresh injuries,” although it was unclear whether it was indeed Davis in the photo, according to the sheriff’s office.
Davis’ family previously told The Seattle Times that she suffered from depression. Davis was a pregnant mother of three.
Deputies Nicholas Prichett and Tim Lewis were called in for the “welfare check.” They arrived at Davis’ home around 6:51 p.m. Both deputies knocked on the door repeatedly to no avail, but they do see two of Davis’ children, 2- and 3-years-old, inside.
“At this point, both deputies worry that Davis has taken her own life and are concerned about the children,” the timeline provided by the department read.
One of the children eventually let the deputies in. The children then led them to the closed room where Davis was, the sheriff’s office said.
Before entering the room, the deputies moved the children to a porch, fearing Davis had killed herself. They then found Davis inside the room, under a blanket on the bed. According to the sheriff’s office, Davis did not show her hands when the deputies asked her to do so.
When a deputy removes the blanket, Davis held a handgun in one hand, an ammunition magazine in the other.
Davis failed to follow repeated orders to put her handgun down and then directed it at the deputies. Both deputies fired in response. Davis, who was five months’ pregnant, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Afterward, authorities learned the handgun was empty. The magazine was loaded. Two rifles were also recovered from the home. Davis’ family said she liked hunting, The Seattle Times reported.
Davis’ third child, age 5, was at a friend’s house. Neither of the children inside the home were harmed.
Both officers have been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is being investigated. The deputies also underwent additional training on crisis intervention.
“All these cops are set up to fail,” said Gabriel Galanda, managing partner at law firm, who represents a family of a Tulalip man who died after police used a Taser on him.
“Money’s not being allocated to local government to train these cops, they don’t know what they’re doing, and then they’re out on the reservation and an Indian community,” Galanda told The Stranger. “Deputies aren’t equipped to deal with the mentally ill, especially the brown mentally ill.”
Before the sheriff’s office released more information over the death of Davis, the Seattle Human Rights Commission said in a statement that officers across the country are not “well trained on how to recognize and interact with people living with depression and similar conditions.”
A 2015 report from the Treatment Advocacy Center showed people with untreated mental illnesses are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed by police.
Joshua Barajas is a senior editor for the PBS NewsHour's Communities Initiative. He also the senior editor and manager of newsletters.
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