The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office this week released a video of the officer involved fatal shooting of a woman in Half Moon Bay last month.
The deputies involved in the shooting were identified as Deputy John Baba and Deputy David Dominguez. Baba has been with the Sheriff’s Office for two years and previously worked at another law enforcement agency, and Dominguez started at the Sheriff’s Office in August 2016 as a correctional officer and became a deputy sheriff in September of 2018.
Both deputies continue to be on routine administrative leave pending the investigation, which is being conducted by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation and is expected to be complete in July. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal administrative review.
The victim has been identified as Sandra Lee Harmon, 56, of Eureka. Her encounter with police began at 7:25 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, on the 800 block of Main Street.
“This officer involved shooting began with a 911 call regarding a woman walking downtown carrying a bottle of wine in one hand and a rifle in the other,” Sheriff Carlos Bolanos said in the video. “We later learned the rifle was a shotgun.”
According to the 911 caller, Harmon said “ma’am you should be aware that you better take precautions there’s going to be a race war tonight” shortly before her deadly encounter with police. Security camera footage from a downtown business obtained after the incident shows Harmon walking on Main Street holding a shotgun.
Shortly after the 911 call, deputies searched the area for Harmon, but could not immediately locate her. As they continued searching, Dominguez approached a motor home parked behind a restaurant at 845 Main St., according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Dominguez attempted contact at the motor home for potential witnesses, but instead encountered Harmon. After a brief conversation, Harmon exited the motor home and leveled her shotgun at Dominguez, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Dominguez retreated to the cover of his patrol vehicle as Harmon fired the shotgun in his direction. He then fired his service weapon, but that moment is not captured on video.
“In the fast moving situation with incoming fire, Deputy Dominguez did not activate his body-worn camera,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
After Dominguez fired his weapon, Harmon dropped the shotgun. Baba, the second deputy to arrive on the scene, heard the shots and ran toward them with his body-worn camera activated.
The video shows both deputies ordering Harmon to the ground as she walks in a circle with her hands in the air and then makes a quick move for the shotgun on the ground. As she grabs the shotgun, both deputies fire multiple shots that proved fatal.
Following life-saving efforts on scene, Harmon was transported in an ambulance to Stanford Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries. There were no injuries sustained by the deputies or anyone else.
A man living in the motor home, an acquaintance of Harmon’s, relayed to deputies statements made by Harmon prior to her death.
“She said she’s going to die tonight,” he said. “That’s suicide by cop.”
“Our goal in releasing these videos, while still early in the investigation, is to provide our community with as much information as possible when we have a tragic incident such as this,” Bolanos said.
Visit www.smcsheriff.com/critical-incidents to access the video.