VIDEO. For Half Moon Bay City Council Meeting 9/15/2020 6:00pm.
Here is the video of the presentation and Q and A for the special meeting.
San Mateo County Sheriff Body Cam Video.
City Half Moon Bay City Council Staff Report for 9/15/2020 6:00pm Meeting
1.A. DISCUSSION WITH THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY REGARDING THE MAY 5, 2020 OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING IN HALF MOON BAY
RECOMMENDATION: Receive a report and discuss the investigation of the District Attorney of the May 5, 2020 shooting of Sandra Harmon in Half Moon Bay by Sheriff’s Deputies.
STRATEGIC ELEMENT: This discussion supports the Healthy Communities and Public Safety and Inclusive Governance elements of the Strategic Plan.
BACKGROUND: Since 2011, the City of Half Moon Bay has contracted with the San Mateo County sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services. On the evening of May 5, 2020, Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call regarding a woman, later identified as Sandra Harmon, who was walking through downtown Half Moon Bay carrying a shotgun and alcohol, and claiming that there was going to be a “race war”. According to reports, after interviewing a witness on Main Street, a deputy tracked the lead to a parking lot on the corner of Main Street and Monte Vista Lane, where he was able to make contact with Ms. Harmon. Following a brief verbal exchange, Ms. Harmon fired the shotgun multiple times at the deputy, who returned gunfire. A second deputy arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, and after verbal commands were ignored, Ms. Harmon again reached for her shotgun, which was at that point laying on the ground. Both deputies opened fire and Ms. Harmon was hit several times and died shortly thereafter. The current practice in San Mateo County is that anytime a member of the public is injured by law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office immediately takes over investigation. Although some details of the incident were initially shared with the public, including body-camera footage, the DA maintains confidentiality of most of the investigation materials until completion, and if charges are pressed, through the trail, in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation and prosecution, if necessary. On August 28, 2020, the District Attorney, Stephen Wagstaffe, issued a letter to the Sheriff detailing the process and findings of the investigation of the shooting of Sandra Harmon (attached to this Staff Report). In the letter, Mr. Wagstaffe concludes that the deputy’s use of deadly force in this incident was lawful, and that the District Attorney’s office will take no further action. On August 28, the DA’s office also provided a press release to the same effect and made the investigation materials available to interested parties.
DISCUSSION: Several members of the community have expressed concerns about the details and conclusion of the District Attorney’s investigation. The District Attorney has offered to participate in a discussion with the City Council on the investigation, and answer questions from the Council and general public. On September 15, 2020, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe will participate in the regular meeting of the Half Moon Bay City Council for this purpose. Due to recent events in the nation as well as the Coastside community, the City is taking several steps to better understand the relationship between the Sheriff’s Office and the community, the policies and practices that the Sheriff currently has in place, and the contract between the City and County. A public Safety City Council subcommittee has been convened which is working with staff to develop a white paper study to explore several areas of law enforcement in Half Moon Bay, and staff are also facilitating community discussions on law enforcement on the Coastside. The purpose of this work is to develop recommendations and potential changes to the City’s contract with the County, which expires on June 30, 2022, aimed towards improving relations between law enforcement and the community, as well as hopefully preventing the types of tragedies experienced across the country and in recent years, within our own community. The discussion with the District Attorney will help provide additional information and clarity in these efforts. ATTACHMENTS: Letter dated August 28, 2020 from the District Attorney to Sheriff Carlos Bolanos regarding the Officer Involved Shooting on May 5, 2020.