On the second day of the inquest into the police shooting of 23-year-old Renee Davis, a pregnant Muckleshoot woman, the father of Davis' unborn child recounted how he asked sheriff's deputies to check on his girlfriend after she expressed suicidal ideation, and then later, how he found out about her death.
Throughout his testimony, TJ Molina, 34, became emotional while detailing the events leading up to Davis' death, including an argument between the couple earlier in the day, and displayed visible anger toward the two deputies who shot at her. He also claimed another officer told him Davis killed herself, when in fact she died from police gunfire.
"I always hear people, don't blame yourself," Molina told jurors as he broke down crying on the witness stand. "How can you not blame yourself when you're the one who got the goddamn cops to go and shoot her in her bed? I wake up everyday... I don't sleep. It haunts me."
Jurors started examining evidence and listening to testimony for the inquest on Monday. Testimony will continue throughout the course of the week.
Molina told the jurors that earlier in the day, he came home to find Davis, a mother of three, getting ready to go the King County Fair, where they had planned to go buy a crib for their unborn child. Davis had straightened her hair and put on a dress. At five months pregnant, she looked beautiful, Molina told jurors.
Davis met Molina when both worked in the tribal fisheries. Davis loved working with her hands, working with salmon all day, Molina said. They started dating nearly seven months prior to her death, and enjoyed hunting and riding motorcycles together.
When Molina came home earlier the same day of the shooting, he told jurors that he was exhausted from work and went to take a nap. Upon waking up, he said, he and Davis got into a fight over canceled plans to go to the fair.
Molina said he left, and later, Davis asked him to return her motorcycle. When Molina returned the motorcycle at Davis' home, he also asked for his hunting rifle back—an item he referred to as old, with sentimental value. At Davis', Molina told jurors he found the hunting rifle smashed to pieces in the closet. "I got angry again," he said. "And l looked at her and I said, 'You're messed up.'"
Molina said he left to go to his mother's home after that, and later, started receiving text messages from Davis in which she threatened to shoot herself. He said Davis texted a photo of a bleeding cut, one he assumed she had inflicted on herself.
"I didn't know where [the cut] was, but I freaked out," Molina said. He decided to go to the police station to ask for help.
Molina told jurors that he didn't see anyone inside the police station on the reservation when he arrived, but spotted a deputy in a car near the pow wow grounds. "Renee lost it, and she's really scaring me, and she's sending these messages, and I'm scared for her and I'm scared for my child," Molina said he told the deputy.
Molina said he asked the deputy to make sure Davis was safe. But while Molina told jurors that he informed Pritchett that Davis owned a handgun and had a concealed carry permit, Pritchett later said he couldn't recall Molina telling him those details.
When asked by the state prosecutor if Molina knew the deputy's name, Molina also said he didn't. "I don't know any of the cops' names, and I don't care, and I don't want to know their names," he said.
Later, when Molina said he heard sirens and saw emergency vehicles drive past his window, he first thought it was an accident in Enumclaw. Then, when he saw the direction they were going, he feared for Davis.
"Every direction I look there's cops," he remembered. "I think maybe something's wrong because my heart dropped, and I'm shaking. And I'm sitting there just crying."
Molina said he asked his mother to go check on Davis, and while she was gone, a coworker approached him and told him he was sorry for his loss. That was when Molina found out Davis was dead.
Davis' boyfriend told jurors he jumped in his truck and drove to the scene. "A cop grabs me, looks like he's going to tackle me, stiff-arms me and says, 'Who are you?'" Molina said. "I said, 'Who are you, this is my woman's house.' 'What's your relationship?' And I'm like, 'What the hell happened, man?'"
At that point, Molina said he asked if Davis had killed herself, and the cop he spoke to said she did. (Danielle Bargala, Davis' foster sister, and Sherina Sam, Bargala's cousin, told The Stranger they had also been told that Davis killed herself.) It wasn't until later that someone told her that she had been shot by the deputies who went to check on her.
"I didn't say go over to her house and shoot her in her bed," Molina said.
This is part of my ongoing coverage of the inquest hearing of the police killing of Renee Davis. On the first day of the hearing, jurors saw surveillance footage from the day of the shooting. Stay tuned for testimony from deputies Nicholas Pritchett and Tim Lewis.