Ms. Crews, 39, did not respond to an interview request.
“Officer Crews has maintained she did not intend to shoot Ashley Hall,” her lawyer, Travis Noble, said in a statement. “It was an accident. The restorative justice approach taken by the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office was the best outcome for all involved.”
Mr. Bell, the St. Louis County prosecutor, said that the case “presented a unique set of facts” that made it an ideal opportunity for restorative justice mediation. He emphasized Ms. Crews’s immediate apology after she fired a bullet into Ms. Hall’s back, and Ms. Hall’s disclosure to him that she did not wish to see Ms. Crews go to jail.
Soon after the shooting, Mr. Bell contacted the restorative justice program in Washington, D.C., which the city’s attorney general, Karl A. Racine, established in 2017. Seema Gajwani, who leads the program, agreed to facilitate the moderation between Ms. Hall and Ms. Crews.
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“This is an example accomplishing the ideal, which is healing and justice,” Mr. Bell said in an interview. “The trauma that individuals have to deal with during the legal process often does not address that healing, that type of accountability, and it’s not designed to.”
Ms. Gajwani said in an interview that the criminal justice system leaves little room for people to have the agency to “resolve things themselves and to have a chance to speak.” She said she has often been surprised by how frequently victims opt for restorative justice when it is available, instead of a trial.
Washington’s restorative justice program has conducted more than 150 mediations, according to Mr. Racine’s office, which said that an internal analysis of cases involving juvenile offenders indicated that the process reduces recidivism.
Restorative justice programs are proliferating across the country, and not just in major metropolitan areas, said Alissa Marque Heydari, deputy director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.