Just before deadly encounter
Security footage from May 5 appears to show Sandra Harmon carrying a gun on Main Street in the moments before she was shot and killed by San Mateo County Sheriff's deputies. Photo courtesy San Mateo County Sheriff's Office

UPDATED: The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office has released disturbing body camera footage and the 911 dispatch call related to the killing of a Eureka woman in Half Moon Bay on May 5. The woman was shot multiple times in a Main Street parking lot by deputies who responded to a call of an armed woman who was talking of a race war.

The woman, later identified as 56-year-old Sandra Lee Harmon, died while being transported to a local hospital.

At about 7:25 p.m. on May 5, Harmon, who was in town visiting her daughter, was reportedly armed and walking down Main Street near Monte Vista Lane. In security footage apparently taken just before the fatal confrontation, she can be seen walking south on Main Street, crossing Miramontes Street. In the grainy footage, she appears to be carrying a gun and what a witness said was a bottle of wine.

The subsequent 911 call was urgent.

“She said, ‘Ma’am, you should be aware that you better take precautions. There is going to be a race war tonight,’” the caller told the 911 dispatcher.

Deputy David Dominguez can be seen on his body camera footage speaking with the 911 caller at the scene. Initially, deputies could not find Harmon. Shortly after speaking with the 911 caller, Dominguez went to a trailer behind Pasta Moon looking for some sign of the woman with the gun. He had apparently deactivated his camera.

The Sheriff’s Office released footage of what happened next as it was captured from the body cameras of two of the responding deputies. However, the video included with the footage says, “In the fast-moving situation with incoming fire, deputy Dominguez did not activate his body-worn camera.”

The Sheriff’s Office says Dominguez encountered Harmon as she stood in the doorway of a motor home parked in the lot behind Pasta Moon. Authorities say Harmon fired first and that Dominguez discharged his weapon. The sound of gunshots brought deputy John Baba running to the scene.

At this point, Harmon is walking near the motor home and the gun is on the ground. Both deputies ordered Harmon to the ground. Instead, she can be seen reaching for her weapon before both Dominguez and Baba fire repeatedly. It is difficult to make out the number of shots on the video.

Harmon falls to the ground and a third deputy handcuffs her.

Harmon’s family described her as being troubled and suffering from mental health issues. She was a mother and wife and was a peaceful person, according to her daughter Willow Grace.

Juan Blackwolf lives in the trailer behind Pasta Moon. He was detained while deputies investigated in the wake of the shooting. He can be heard on the body camera footage speculating that Harmon committed “suicide by cop.”

Baba has been with the Sheriff’s Office for approximately two years and previously worked as a police officer at another agency. Dominguez started at the Sheriff’s Office in August 2016 as a correctional officer and became a deputy sheriff in 2018. Both have been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation from the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office is also conducting an internal administrative review.

The Review made a public records request for the footage the day after the shooting. It was delayed while investigators conducted interviews and again for technical issues, the Sheriff's Office said. It was released in a video report that included a narrative from Sheriff Carlos Bolanos.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said earlier this week he anticipates his office to complete investigation of the incident to be complete the first week of July.

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