Lawyers for the Davis family discuss the results of the inquest with Danielle Bargala, Renee Davis foster sister.
Lawyers for the Davis family discuss the results of the inquest with Danielle Bargala, Renee Davis' foster sister. SB

A six-person jury deliberated for an hour and a half before determining that the officers who fatally shot Renee Davis, a 23-year-old, pregnant Muckleshoot mother of three, believed she posed an imminent threat of death or bodily injury to them before firing their guns at her during a welfare check.

At the same time, half the jurors believed that the deputies were not concerned for Davis' welfare upon seeing her in her bedroom before shooting her. Two jurors disagreed with that assessment, and one answered "unknown."

Jurors answered unanimously on most of the 33 questions they were asked to answer, which were proposed by lawyers on both sides and approved by the judge.

Danielle Bargala, Davis' foster sister, said she had hoped for more "no's" or "unknowns" on the question of whether the officers feared for their lives. "Now they get to keep their jobs, basically, no questions asked," Bargala said.

Attorneys for the Davis family said that the jury's ruling on the question of concern for welfare means that the deputies weren't justified in going into her bedroom.

"I don't think there's a doubt [the deputies] were scared, but that's the problem," Ryan Dreveskracht, one of the two attorneys representing the Davis family, said.

"They don't know how to cool it down, take a step back, call the people who need to be called, get this woman the help that she needs," Dreveskracht said. "Instead, they treat it like a drug raid."

Unlike criminal and civil cases, the outcome of an inquest does not constitute a legal judgement. Rather of ruling on charges, this inquest provides "public inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the death of Renee Davis." A use of force review at the King County Sheriff's Office dealing with the facts of the inquest will follow this week's proceedings, and the King County Prosecutor's Office will ultimately decide if there's a basis for filing charges. Testimony and evidence presented during the inquest could also be used to inform the path forward for a civil case, if Davis' family decides to pursue one.

Renee Davis sisters and her daughters sit in the grass outside the courtroom.
Renee Davis' sisters and her daughters sit in the grass outside the courtroom. Emiley Montes

"I think there were several points in time when [the deputies] had the choice to make different decisions," Jenny Durkan, attorney for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe (and mayoral candidate), told The Stranger. "The second thing is, I think it really points out once again the need to have all officers have training, experience in, and resources, including mental health professionals available, to help people in times of crisis."

Durkan said that the next steps for the tribe will be to consult with the family, but also to work with the Department of Justice and King County Sheriff's Office to provide better training for officers who work on the reservation.

Derrick Isakson, the attorney representing the deputies, declined to comment on the proceedings.

During the five-day inquest hearing, Jurors heard testimony from Davis' boyfriend, the two deputies who shot at Davis, the detective who interviewed them, and the medical examiner. During the week, dozens of supporters, including Davis' surviving family, her boyfriend, tribal members filtered in and out of the courtroom, listening to witnesses describe in detail how Davis died.

Questions in the interrogatory did not asks jurors to consider whether the deputies had been adequately trained to deal with a mental health crisis, or whether they followed their training. Generally speaking, inquests are for fact-finding only, not determining blame or fault.

"I think one other thing is we need to make some changes and reform the inquest process," Durkan, the attorney for the tribe, said. "I think there needs to be some public forum where, separate from questions of fault or blame, we talk about a better approach to be made, or better training is needed. The public has a right to be thinking about and inquiring about and learning from tragedies so we don't repeat them."

Renee Davis boyfriend, TJ Molina (left), her foster sister Danielle Bargala (second from right), and Bargalas cousin Sherina Sam (far right) digging into Indian tacos provided by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe outside the courthouse after the inquest concluded.
Renee Davis' boyfriend, TJ Molina (left), her foster sister Danielle Bargala (second from right), and Bargala's cousin Sherina Sam (far right) digging into Indian tacos provided by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe outside the courthouse after the inquest concluded. SB

The inquest yielded mixed feelings for Davis' family.

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"[The deputies] showed no remorse," Gabriele Davis, Davis' sister, said. "They took my sister's life and they're treating it as if it never happened."

But one finding did give Gabriele Davis hope: the jurors' ruling on whether the deputies were concerned with Davis' welfare. "It's good to see that at least some people can see that," she said. "They were reckless."

You can read about what the surveillance footage of Davis' home revealed here, the emotional testimony from the father of her unborn son here, and what the deputies had to say here.

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