Miss Cruz, 39, did not respond to an interview request.
“Officer Crews insisted she had no intention of shooting Ashley Hall,” her lawyer Travis Noble said in a statement. “It was an accident. The restorative justice approach taken by the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office was the best outcome for everyone involved.”
Mr. Bell, the St. Louis County Attorney, said the case “presents a unique set of facts,” making it an ideal opportunity for restorative justice mediation. He stressed that Miss Cruz immediately apologized after she shot Miss Hall in the back and that Miss Hall had informed him that she did not want Miss Cruz to go to jail.
Shortly after the shooting, Mr. Bell contacted the Washington, D.C. restorative justice program that the city’s attorney general Karl A. Racine established in 2017. Sima Gajwani, who leads the program, agreed to facilitate moderation between Ms. Hall. and Miss Crews.
“This is an example of achieving the ideal of healing and justice,” Mr. Bell said in an interview. “The trauma people face during a trial is often not related to this healing, this type of responsibility, and is not meant to be.”
Ms Hajwani said in an interview that the criminal justice system leaves little room for people to “solve problems on their own and be able to speak up.” She said she was often surprised at how often victims choose restorative justice, when available, over trial.
More than 150 mediations have been conducted under Washington’s restorative justice program, according to Mr. Racine’s office, who said internal analysis of cases involving juvenile offenders showed that the process reduced recidivism.
Restorative justice programs are spreading across the country, not just in major metropolitan areas, said Alyssa Mark Heidari, deputy director of the Institute for Innovation at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice prosecutors’ office.