Response questioned in fatal shooting of woman in Alta Sierra
In the wake of the Feb. 4 fatal shooting of Ariella “Sage” Crawford in front of her children by a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy, Crawford’s family pushed for the release of dash-cam footage that might provide some clarity as to what transpired.
Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon released that footage Wednesday, as part of a longer video that also included the 911 calls and radio traffic before and during the incident.
“It’s a gut-wrenching video,” said family spokeswoman Leiah Schenk Thursday morning. “As you can imagine, it was a very difficult day for (the family) yesterday. They’re struggling pretty bad. For all of us, it was a difficult video to watch, no matter if you knew Sage or not. … I don’t think anyone can see that and not feel a gut-felt reaction, not just for Sage but for the girls.”
In the 17-minute-long video, two deputies are seen responding to a report of a woman walking in the middle of the street with two small children on Names Drive in Alta Sierra.
Crawford pulled a knife as a deputy approached her and appeared highly agitated during the interaction. One of the deputies fired a Taser at her but did not make contact, and the second deputy fired a total of five shots as Crawford ran toward the first deputy. Crawford was treated at the scene after she dropped the knife and was transported to the hospital, where she died.
“The most important thing is the girls are being taken care of,” Schenk said. “The family needs to grieve, they need to lay Sage to rest and process everything.”
Even before the video was released, Crawford’s family was aware she had been having some sort of mental break, Schenk said.
“Having the police respond was not what she needed,” she said. “They were not equipped to handle that (situation). They did more damage than good.”
Schenk cited the Mobile Crisis Team announced by the Sheriff’s Office in October, asking why a team was not scheduled to work that day.
“That might have been what Sage needed,” she said, calling the failure to have an on-call crisis team a “huge disconnect that has to be fixed.”
“I believe this could have gone a totally different way,” Schenk said. “They failed Sage. She needed help they didn’t provide and it cost her her life.”
Community members organized under the banner of Justice for Sage Crawford have planned a vigil starting at 3 p.m. Friday outside the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office on Commercial Street in Nevada City.
“Prioritizing crisis management is an emergency measure that should be implemented to protect our community and those having mental health episodes, but we cannot stop there,” a group spokesperson said in a message. “Without addressing the underlying issues, like housing, lack of access to health care, poverty, and a brutal and violent system of policing, we will continue to see more events like this.”
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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