Nevada County Sheriff Releases Video of Deputy Fatally Shooting Mother In Front Of Her Children
The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday released video that shows a deputy fatally shooting a woman holding a knife as she chased after another deputy in front of her children two weeks ago.
Ariella Sage Eloise Crawford was shot in front of her children on the afternoon of Feb. 4, the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office has said. Crawford’s birth name was Deidre Eloise Hawkins.
Crawford, 33, died at a hospital. No one else was injured during the encounter.
The fatal shooting occurred in the mountain town of Alta Sierra, just south of Grass Valley. Shortly after 1 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a person walking in the middle of the street with her two small children on Alta Sierra Drive, sheriff’s officials said.
The deadly shooting occurred near Names and Alta Sierra drives, off of Highway 49, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The District Attorney’s Office has said the woman was armed with a knife, and one deputy fired his gun at the woman during the encounter.
The Sheriff’s Office released video footage captured with dashboard cameras. The video released Wednesday contains recordings of 911 calls, along with radio traffic between dispatchers and deputies.
Deputy Caleb Toderean and Deputy Matthew Harrison were the first to arrive and were involved in the fatal shooting. Toderean has worked for the Sheriff’s Office for four-and-a-half years and Harrison has been with the office for four years.
In the video, Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon said Crawford immediately became upset after the deputies arrived, and she quickly pulled out a knife. Sheriff’s officials the deputies made repeated efforts to de-escalate the situation but were not successful.
The video shows Crawford move her children behind her as she pulled out the knife from what appears to be some type of sheath. She told the deputies to stay away from her children as her voice quickly elevated to a scream.
“You’re not in trouble or anything like that … I’m not going to touch your babies, but I need you to put your knife away,” Toderean told Crawford.
“Don’t hurt my babies … if something happens to me and my babies, everyone in the whole world will know,” Crawford screamed at Toderean.
The video shows Crawford get closer to Toderean as one of the children moved in that same direction. She told the deputy to get away from her child. Toderean repeatedly told Crawford to back up and tried to convince her to talk to him.
At the same time, Harrison was holding a Taser and aiming the less-than-lethal weapon at Crawford. Harrison also told Crawford to back away and put down the knife.
“Listen, talk to us. Talk to us,” Toderean told Crawford as one of the frightened children is heard screaming.
Crawford then screamed at Toderean, “Kill me now, because they will find out the truth!” Toderean responded, “I don’t want to kill you.”
WOMAN CHASED AFTER DEPUTY
As Crawford approached the deputy speaking to her, Harrison approached her from behind and appeared to have fired his Taser at her. Crawford then turned around and started chasing Harrison.
The video shows Harrison running away with the Taser in his hand as Crawford chased after him with the knife in her hand. Toderean then follows them, shooting Crawford with his agency-issued handgun. Crawford was shot from behind.
The video shows she fell forward on the other side of the road after she was struck by gunfire. She then turned around, writhing on the ground and still screaming.
As the shots were fired, the child who was previously closest to his mother ran along the side of the road to regroup with the other child. The children could be heard screaming as the mother and the deputies were across the street.
Toderean is then heard telling dispatchers that shots have been fired. He also told Crawford again to drop the knife. The children ran into the street, screaming and crying, as they tried to get closer to their mother.
Toderean and a third deputy, who had just arrived, stopped the children and moved them back behind a patrol vehicle. The children were then placed in the back seat of the patrol vehicle with the help of a nearby resident.
CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES TOOK CUSTODY OF KIDS
Harrison remained with Crawford before he was joined by the two other deputies. In the video, the deputies continued to tell Crawford to drop the knife as she remained on the ground injured by gunfire shows. Harrison told the other deputies he had since dropped his Taser, and that the Taser “didn’t take.”
“She charged at me as soon as it went off,” Harrison explained about firing his Taser.
As soon as Crawford dropped the knife, the deputies moved in to handcuff and begin to provide her with first aid. Sheriff’s officials said she was still responsive at the time. Medics in an ambulance arrived about four minutes later.
The resident remained at the scene helping to comfort the children as the deputies tried to help their mother, the sheriff said. Nevada County Child Protective Services later took custody of the children, Moon said.
Moon has said she asked the District Attorney’s Office to conduct the investigation immediately after the fatal shooting “to ensure the investigation remains independent from the Sheriff’s Office.” She said in the video released Wednesday that prosecutors will determine whether the fatal shooting was “justified and lawful.”
“We released this video prior to the conclusion of that investigation in the interest of transparency with our community,” Moon said in the video. “We make no judgment on the incident or how it unfolded. That is for the District Attorney’s Office to determine.”