Renee Davis: Pregnant single mother shot and killed by deputies on Muckleshoot tribal land
Renee Davis wasn't doing well. The 23-year-old single mother who lived on the Muckleshoot reservation suffered from depression. She loved her three children and was employed as a teacher's aide in a local Head Start program. But this night, she was having one of her low moments.
The reservation, about 15 miles from Tacoma Washington, and 35 miles from Seattle, is one of the Pacific Northwest's last pristine areas of Native American land. The inhabitants had long learned to live with a distrust of those outside the reservation. On Friday, Ocober 21, those fears would prove to be well founded.
King County Sheriff's Deputies visited Davis at her home for a mundane welfare check. Her 2-year-old child and 4-year-old child were home, but her 5-year-old was at the home of a friend. What they found, according to what law enforcement officials told the media Friday, was a suicidal mother with a handgun and two small children in the home. The case is eerily similar to that of Korryn Gaines, who was shot and killed by SWAT officers who broke into her home. Part of the standoff was broadcast on Instagram by Gaines before her death.
The official police account of Davis' death says that she had a handgun.
Davis didn't own a handgun, according to her sister Danielle Bargala, who spoke at length to the Seattle Times newspaper.
“She loved hunting,” Bargala told Times. She said her sister recently killed a deer and butchered it herself, distributing the meat to her family. “I still have elk in my freezer,” Bargala was quoted as saying.
Deputies descended on the home about 6:30 p.m. Friday and allegedly knocked repeatedly on the door, but to no avail.
"They tried repeatedly to get somebody to come to the door, nobody did," King County Sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West told TV station KOMO. "But, they could see the two kids running around inside then house."
Whatever happened next is a mystery. Police said that one of the children let them inside the home and they found Davis in a bedroom covered by a blanket. Under the blanket, she had a firearm. What is not in dispute is that the lawmen fired multiple shots, hitting Davis, but not her kids.
Davis should be alive today, her sister believes. There are many unanswered questions that the family says still remains.
“It’s really upsetting because it was a wellness check,” Bargala told the Times. “Obviously, she didn’t come out of it well.”
A legal question, which will come to the fore if the deputy who pulled the trigger is scrutinized by public officials and the public, is the fact that Davis was 5-months pregnant, making the incident technically a double shooting.
"The found her in the house and she was armed with a handgun," West told reporters, adamant that the woman was either putting the officers' lives in danger or that of her kids.
"I don't know what led up to the shooting," West told reporters, according to Q13 Fox.
In a Facebook post, the Muckleshoot Early Learning Academy, where Davis worked, said she was an "amazing" person.
“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.”
Attorney Gabriel Galanda, speaking to The Stranger, said, “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.”
“Deputies aren’t equipped to deal with the mentally ill, especially the brown mentally ill.”