Ariella “Sage” Crawford had marijuana in her system at the time of her death, with no signs of harder drugs in her body, authorities said.
Those toxicology results come as officials continue working on a report about whether the deputies involved in her Feb. 4 fatal shooting should face discipline for any misconduct. That report is expected to be publicly released next month, the District Attorney’s Office said.
If the report on Crawford’s death finds that the deputies who shot her broke the law, they could face criminal charges by the District Attorney’s Office. Even if the deputies involved in Crawford’s death are not charged, they could still face other penalties on the basis of the report, including disciplinary actions by the Sheriff’s Office that could include dismissal from the agency, Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said.
Investigators assembling the report on Crawford’s death have been interviewing different law enforcement agencies, witnesses to the incident, and deputies involved in the shooting, according to Walsh. The District Attorney’s Office is also reviewing a widely viewed dash cam video that captured portions of the incident, including footage of a visibly agitated Crawford charging at a deputy with a knife before being shot.
Additionally, investigators writing the report have considered toxicology reports conducted on Crawford’s body by the Placer County coroner. These reports have showed that Crawford had some marijuana in her system at the time of the shooting, but have not indicated that she was under the presence of any stronger drugs, such as opioids, according to Walsh. He added that these findings undermine the view that Crawford was under the influence of hard drugs on the day of her death.
“These results were somewhat surprising, because some people looked at those videos and looked at her response and said she must be on something,” he said.
Instead, Walsh said the toxicology results seem to support the theory that Crawford was suffering from an un-diagnosed mental illness that she had not received any treatment for.
“You can’t watch that video and say nothing was going on. Clearly she was either on some strong drug, or suffering from a mental illness, and from this report it seems to be the latter.”
District Attorney Cliff Newell said that in addition to evidence being collected on the incident through interviews and analysis, his office has been working with the state Department of Justice in the investigation into Crawford’s death. Walsh said Nevada County investigators were working with experts from a DOJ crime lab in Sacramento, where different forms of evidence present in the Crawford case, including toxicology, firearms, and ballistic testing, could be processed.
The final report on Crawford’s death will likely be issued once this joint review of the incident with the DOJ has concluded, Newell said.
Walsh said that in officer-involved shooting incidents, such as the deaths of Crawford and Gabriel Strickland, Nevada County makes it a priority to issue these kinds of reports to promote transparency as well as to boost public confidence in the rule of law.
“In this case with an officer involved shooting, it’s important for there to be very careful detailed reasons, for the sake of public confidence, to make a decision on whether to charge or not charge someone,” Walsh said.
The two deputies primarily involved in the incident — Caleb Toderean and Matthew Harrison — were both placed on administrative leave in February, but have since returned to active duty, sheriff’s Lt. Sean Scales said.
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at [email protected]