Renee Davis was five months pregnant when King County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed her during a “wellness check” Friday night, according to her foster sister, Danielle Bargala.
Davis, 23, was struggling with depression. She had just texted someone earlier that night, according to Bargala, saying she was very upset and depressed. That person alerted law enforcement, which caused deputies to arrive at Davis’ house on Muckleshoot tribal lands shortly after 6:30 p.m
Bargala is a Seattle University law student. She said Saturday that she along with other family members still have a lot of questions about what happened next.
Part of the problem is the sheriff’s office has refused to comment Saturday beyond what it said Friday night.
— Heavy.com (@HeavySan) October 24, 2016
The deputies will only say that they found a young woman with a handgun and two small children in the house. But she was clearly no threat to anyone but herself.
The children were Davis’, ages 2 and 3, according to Bargala.
Davis had a third child, 5, who was at the home of a family friend Friday.
Bargala says that she didn’t know whether or not her sister owned a handgun, although Davis says she did have a hunting rifle. “She loved hunting,” Bargala explained.
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 she had never known Davis to be violent, or even to discipline her kids harshly. “She was such a soft person,” Bargala said.
They grew up in a family of seven kids, including two of Davis’ biological sisters and other foster children taken in by Bargala’s parents. Davis, of Native American heritage, came to live with the family on the Muckleshoot reservation when she was in elementary school.
“It’s really upsetting because it was a wellness check,” Bargala said of the encounter between deputies and her sister. “Obviously, she didn’t come out of it well.”
It’s an outcome that Seattle lawyer Ryan Dreveskracht said he is familiar with when it comes to interactions between law-enforcement authorities and those struggling with mental illness.
He is representing the family of Cecil Lacy Jr., a mentally ill Tulalip tribal member who died of cardiac arrhythmia after law-enforcement officers used a stun gun on him last September. Lacy’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which had a deputy involved in the incident. The lawsuit says Lacy was not armed.
Dreveskracht said the officers involved in the Lacy incident should have defused the situation but did the opposite. While the Seattle Police Department now trains its officers in de-escalation techniques, many other departments around the state do not, Dreveskracht said.
Davis’ family says they are now trying to figure out where the single mother’s children will go.