ALTA SIERRA, Calif. — The Nevada County Sheriff’s office released video and audio Wednesday of the deputy shooting that killed 33-year-old Sage Crawford on Feb. 4.
Around 1 p.m., dispatchers received calls about a woman who was walking in the middle of Alta Sierra Drive with two children under the age of 5.
In 911 audio released by the sheriff’s office, one caller describes her interaction with Crawford and seeing her walking with two children. The caller described Crawford as “not well.”
A second caller who had let Crawford into her home told dispatch that Crawford believed she was being followed by someone and needed a ride to the Nevada state line. The dispatcher told the caller that the person she saw following Crawford was the first 911 caller.
Two Nevada County deputies responded and found Crawford.
The video released includes footage from both of the deputies’ dash cams.
“We wanted that released because we thought it was very important that the public see that. It’s not easy to watch, it’s horrible to watch,” said Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh, whose office is leading the investigation.
In the video, Crawford appears to brandish a knife as deputies approach.
“I’m not going to touch your babies but I need you to put your knife away,” Deputy Caleb Toderean tells Crawford in the video.
Crawford shouts at the deputies to not touch her children as she slowly approaches Toderean.
“Everyone knows every single face, every single name. If something happens to me and my babies, everyone in the whole world will know,” she screamed.
At one point, one of Crawford’s children stands between her and Toderean and appears to yell, “Stop!”
“Hey, I need you to put the knife down. Just talk. Just talk to us,” Toderean says as Crawford refuses to put away the knife.
The video shows Deputy Matthew Harrison try to use a Taser on Crawford, who then turns and runs toward him. Deputy Toderean then fires five times at Crawford, in front of her children.
As she was on the ground, deputies continued to tell Crawford to drop her knife. As soon as she does, the deputies start to render medical aid.
Crawford was taken to the hospital, where she later died.
The sheriff’s office published the audio and video clips to its YouTube page. The videos are graphic and emotionally disturbing. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
In the days following Crawford’s death, her family said they had not received any information as to why she was killed and called for justice.
Leia Schenk, with the nonprofit Empact, acted as the family’s spokesperson as they brought flowers and candles to the site where Crawford was killed.
“She loved her children. She took the best care of her children that she was able to do,” Schenk said. “Sage did not deserve to be gunned down in front of her children, which is an image they will never forget.”
Schenk explained Crawford was in an unsafe situation and was trying to get her kids to a safe location.
“Because she had to leave so quickly, she left the children’s jacket where they were staying,” Schenk said. “That is why she knocked on the neighbor’s door to ask for money to get the kids a jacket. Instead of giving the jacket off the backs, they called the police on her.”
Crawford’s family has mentioned the single mother suffered from some sort of mental illness but wasn’t diagnosed and someone other than law enforcement should have responded.
State Assembly member Sydney Kamlager of Culver City agrees.
“This is an opportunity to have folks who know the neighborhood, who know the communities and know how to respond to mental health episodes,” Kamlager said.
She introduced a bill last year called the Crises Act that calls for funding community-based organizations to step in and respond to nonviolent 911 emergency calls so that law enforcement doesn’t have to, adding that law enforcement doesn’t want to deal with those calls either.
The bill was eventually vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September, but Kamlager says this is needed more than ever.
“I think last year and this year shows as we are battling COVID and the mental health fallout of COVID, we are going to see an uptick in these kinds of incidents. It makes sense for us to have a response that is appropriate that does not involve law enforcement,” she explained.
Kamlager says she introduced the bill again this year, hoping it passes this time around.