A 23-year-old pregnant single mother was fatally shot by police who went to her home on the Muckleshoot tribal land in Washington to check on her well being, her family says.
Renee Davis, who was five months pregnant and the mother of three young children, was killed October 21 by deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office, The News Tribune reports.
Few details about the shooting have been released so far, and Davis’ family has many questions about what happened, according to the newspaper report.
“It’s really upsetting because it was a wellness check,” her foster sister, Danielle Bargala, told The News Tribune. “Obviously, she didn’t come out of it well.”
The Muckleshoot tribal land is located near Auburn, Washington, about 30 miles south of Seattle.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Davis Was Armed With a Handgun & Had 2 of Her Children in the Home When She Was Shot, the Sheriff’s Office Says
The King’s County Sheriff’s Office said two deputies were sent to Renee Davis’ home on the Muckleshoot tribal land about 6:30 p.m. Friday night after receiving a report there was possibly suicidal woman there, Q13 Fox reports.
Davis, who had been struggling with depression, sent a text message to another person saying she was not well, The News Tribune reports. That person then called the sheriff’s office to go check on her.
“They tried repeatedly to get somebody to come to the door, nobody did,” King County Sheriff’s Sergeant Cindi West told KOMO News. “But, they could see the two kids running around inside then house.”
The initial report was that Davis had a rifle, but deputies said they found her armed with a handgun, KOMO reports.
“The found her in the house and she was armed with a handgun,” West told the news station. The deputies then both opened fire and Davis was struck at least once. The fired multiple shots, West said.
Medics responded to the home, but Davis was pronounced dead at the scene.
“I don’t know what led up to the shooting,” West told Q13 News.
Davis’ children were not harmed.
2. Her Foster Sister Said Davis Liked to Hunt & Owned a Rifle, but She Wasn’t Sure if She Also Owned a Handgun
Renee Davis’ foster sister, Danielle Bargala, a law student at Seattle University, told The News Tribune that Davis liked to hunt and owned a rifle. But she said she wasn’t sure if Davis also owned a handgun.
Bargala said she never knew Davis to be a violent person or discipline her children harshly, according to The News Tribune.
“She was such a soft person,” Bargala said.
A Seattle lawyer representing a member of another local tribe who was killed by police says Davis’ death is an example of the issues surrounding police interactions with people struggling with mental illness.
Ryan Dreveskracht told The News Tribune that while the Seattle Police Department and many others train in de-escalation techniques, several others do not.
3. Davis Worked as a Receptionist & Also Was a Teacher at Local Preschool Program
Renee Davis was a receptionist at the Muckleshoot Health and Wellness Center, according to her Facebook page. She also worked as a teacher at the Muckleshoot Child Development Center.
She attended the Muckleshoot Tribal School and Muckleshoot Tribal College.
Davis was the mother of three children. Her youngest kids, ages 2 and 3, were at the home at the time of the shooting, her family says. Her 5-year-old child was with family friends at the time.
The Muckleshoot Early Learning Academy, where Davis worked, posted on Facebook about her death.
“Our MELA family is deeply saddened by the loss of our teammate, MELA parent, and friend, Renee Davis. She was an amazing addition to our team and this loss hurts us immeasurably. To ensure consistency for our MELA students, we will be open tomorrow with grief counselors available for staff and parents starting at 8:00 a.m.,” the academy said. “Prayers of strength, love, and comfort to all of those affected by this loss.”
Bargala told The News Tribune they grew up in a family of seven kids that included two of Davis’ biological sisters and other foster children taken in by Bargala’s parents.
Davis was of Native American heritage and moved to live with the Bargala family on the Muckleshoot reservation in elementary school, Bargala told the newspaper.
She told The News Tribune that Davis loved working outdoors and had participated in a fisheries training program. She also loved hunting, and had recently killed an elk and a deer, butchering the animals and dividing the meat among her family.
“I still have elk in my freezer,” Bargala told the newspaper.
Davis also loved working outdoors and participated in a fisheries training program, her sister said. More recently, she worked as a teacher’s aide in a Head Start preschool program.
Bargala said Davis’ children are staying with relatives.
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4. Two Deputies Have Been Placed on Paid Administrative Leave While the Shooting Is Investigated
Two King’s County Sheriff’s Office deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy, while the shooting is investigated, KOMO News reports.
The names of the deputies have not yet been released.
One is an 8-year veteran assigned to the Muckleshoot reservation, and the other is a 3-year veteran, the sheriff’s office said.
The shooting is being investigated by detectives from the sheriff’s office.
Muckleshoot contracts with the King’s County Sheriff’s Office to provide police services on the tribal land.
5. Activists Have Used the Hashtag ‘Native Lives Matter’ on Social Media to Raise Awareness About Her Death
A candlelight vigil was held outside Davis’ home Saturday night, her sister said on Facebook.
Another member of the tribal community posted a photo on Facebook from what appeared to be a protest Sunday:
Social justice advocates began spreading Davis’ story on social media using #ReneeDavis and #NativeLivesMatter, with many raising questions about what happened.
The police department has not released any other comments about the shooting since Friday night.