Renee Davis, a 23-year-old mother of three, was at her home on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation in Auburn, Wash., Friday evening when sheriff’s deputies came knocking.
Someone had called to report that Davis, who was five months pregnant, was suicidal and armed with a gun, according to the Seattle Times. When deputies arrived to conduct a welfare check, no one at the house answered the door, the King County Sheriff’s office said. They knocked again. Nothing.
Inside, deputies could see two young children running around, the sheriff’s office said. When they entered the house, they found Davis with a handgun.
What happened next is unclear, but at some point two deputies opened fire on Davis, striking her at least once, the Times reported. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Davis, described by a relative as Native American, is one of at least 776 people shot and killed by police so far in 2016, just 32 of them women, according to a Washington Post database tracking police shootings. Of those women, 13 were listed as mentally ill, according to The Post’s database. The shooting comes at a time when police around the country have faced intense scrutiny over use of force, particularly in confrontations with people who are mentally ill or suicidal.
Davis’s foster sister, Danielle Bargala, said Davis was at home with her 2- and 3-year-old children when deputies arrived, and her 5-year-old was with relatives. Bargala told the Times that Davis had suffered from depression in the past and that she had texted someone Friday evening to say she was feeling distraught. That person asked the police to go check on her, Bargala said.
“It’s really upsetting because it was a wellness check,” she said. “Obviously, she didn’t come out of it well.”
Davis was not a violent person, Bargala told the Times, adding that she never even knew her to punish her children harshly. Bargala said Davis owned a hunting rifle that she used to shoot elk and deer, but Bargala said she did not realize Davis had a handgun. She was five months pregnant when she died, Bargala said.
“She was such a soft person,” she said.
The King County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to Davis’s house at 6:30 p.m. Friday after receiving a call about an armed woman who was suicidal with two children in the house.
“They tried repeatedly to get somebody to come to the door, nobody did,” Sgt. Cindi West told KOMO. “But, they could see the two kids running around inside the house.”
“They found her in the house and she was armed with a handgun,” West said.
Both of the deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, which is typical for an officer-involved shooting. One is an eight-year veteran who works on the reservation, and the other is a three-year veteran, according to the Times.
The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
The shooting of Davis came the same week that officials in New York City criticized a police sergeant who shot and killed a 66-year-old woman with schizophrenia. Police responded to Deborah Danner’s apartment in the Bronx after receiving a report about an “emotionally disturbed person.” Authorities said the sergeant opened fire on Danner because she tried to hit him with a baseball bat, as reported by The Post.
The shooting prompted responses from New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill, who said of the incident, “we failed.” Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) also criticized the attack, and other officials questioned whether the sergeant should have used his Taser instead of his gun.
“The shooting of Deborah Danner is tragic and it is unacceptable,” de Blasio said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “It should never have happened. It’s as simple as that. It should never have happened.”
Shortly after Danner died, one of her personal essays surfaced, the Associated Press reported. In it, she described her battle with schizophrenia and anguish over the deaths of mentally ill people in encounters with police.
“We are all aware,” she wrote, “of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead.”