Alta Sierra, CA — Video and audio was released this week illustrating the horrifying effects of sending untrained armed militants to deal with the mentally ill instead of professionals. On February 4, 33-year-old Sage Crawford's two children watched from just a few feet away as Nevada County Sheriff's deputies killed their mom who was in need of mental health help and received police bullets instead.
According to police, dispatchers received a call of a woman walking down Alta Sierra Drive with her two small children. That woman was Crawford and the caller described her to police as "not well."
Illustrating just how little of a threat the woman was before police arrived, they received a second call from another woman who actually let Crawford into her home.
Crawford told this woman that she believed she was being followed and needed a ride to the Nevada state line. The person following her was likely the first caller, according to police.
"Somebody was following her, and she told me not to call the cops," the second caller says. "And she wanted me to take her somewhere safe. She said, 'they're hurting my kids.' And she was really scared and didn't want ... she asked me to take her to Nevada. I go, 'Nevada City?' She said, 'No, the state line.'"
When the two deputies arrived on the scene, it appeared to agitate Crawford, who was holding a knife. Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon said, "For reasons yet unknown, Ms. Crawford was very upset with the presence of our deputies despite one of them immediately saying she was not in any trouble."
In her current mental state, however, armed men pulling up to and then surrounding her, likely pushed her over the edge — regardless of claiming she was not in any trouble.
In the dash camera footage, Crawford says, "Don't hurt my babies," as one deputy tells her, "I need you to put your knife away."
Crawford begins screaming and growing more agitated as the deputy removes his pistol from his holster. This is what sets mental health professionals and cops apart. Police have guns and those already in a heightened paranoid state are not put at ease at all by weapons being aimed at them.
Remember, this woman had not committed any crime when police arrived. It is not illegal to act strange and it is certainly not illegal to take your children on a walk. Sure, she was not in her right state of mind, but the woman allowing Crawford into her home — without incident — shows that she was not trying to hurt anyone. Not until police arrived, that is.
At one point in the video, one of her children jumps in between Crawford and deputies and says, "Stop."
Both deputies repeatedly tell Crawford to put the knife down, and one deputy is seen sneaking up behind her with a taser. This clearly sent Crawford over the edge as she turns and runs at the deputy holding the taser
At this point, the other deputy proceeds to fire a single round, which appeared to strike Crawford in the back before dumping four more rounds into her.
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Her children can be heard in the video screaming as their mother falls to the pavement and dies. According to a statement, deputies began medical aid after Crawford dropped the knife, but she died at the hospital of her injuries.
Family and friends held a vigil for Crawford after the shooting as her friends decried the police response that day.
Remember, as you watch the video below, this mother was entirely innocent and was merely "acting weird" when police showed up. She was then surrounded by cops and shot in the back just a few moments later — in front of her children.
To those who claim the deputies in the videos above had no choice but to use deadly force, think again. There are at least a half-dozen ways for a police officer to stop a knife-wielding subject, rather than employing lethal force with a firearm. All too often, however, as The Free Thought Project has faithfully reported, officers choose the latter, rather than attempt to resolve a knife encounter peacefully.
When cops choose life instead of deadly force, we always give them the attention they deserve. As we reported, Miami-Dade police officers responded to a 911 over a man with a knife. The mentally disturbed man was the one who actually called the emergency line and promised he would “hurt officers” upon their arrival. But fortunately, the two officers who arrived on the scene were not cowards, neither were they uneducated or untrained. The police officers brought the man into custody without anyone being hurt.
The incident preceded a similar incident in Houston when Houston police officers resorted to shooting a knife-wielding suspect with a bean bag round, subduing the man completely, who dropped like a rock, as seen by witness’ cell phone footage.
There are ways to disarm a many with a knife. One brave officer could attempt to take the knife away in a hand-to-hand experience. That method requires a high-level of training not normally acquired by a police training academy. Another way a knife could be taken away from a suspect is with a baton strike to the hand holding the knife. Still another method is with a sniper round to the hand holding the knife. All of which takes time, forethought, and careful planning.
Friend of the Free Thought Project and a brave whistleblower cop, Dominick Izzo, was also honored for disarming a mentally ill man with a knife — without killing him.
Izzo was awarded Round Lake Park's Exceptional Duty medal for the way he handled an extremely dangerous situation.
On April 19, 2015, Izzo was confronted by an aggressive and distraught man armed with a knife -- a situation in which other cops would almost instantly resort to deadly force. But not Izzo.
When Izzo attempted to calm the man down, the man pulled a knife and approached him in a threatening manner. Instead of killing him, Izzo courageously disarmed the man without injury to either of them. A true hero indeed.
All too often, scenarios such as those end in the death of someone Crawford who is going through a hard time in life, is medicated on psych medicines, or simply has no one to talk to.