On August 14, police shot and killed 50-year-old Michelle Cusseaux in her Phoenix, Ariz. apartment, while attempting to serve a court order committing her to a mental-health facility.
Why? The police officers involved in the shooting claim the woman charged at them wielding a hammer, after they had repeatedly ordered her to drop it.
CBS5 reported that police said that they were aware that the woman had several mental issues and that she had threatened to shoot clinical staff if they ever came to her home.
As in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of Michael Brown 5 days earlier, there were multiple protests in the streets of Phoenix following the shooting. But, unlike in Ferguson, the protests remained peaceful. On Friday a large group of protesters marched on City Hall carrying a casket thought to be that of Cusseaux and demanded that an outside investigator be brought in to look into the circumstances of her death.
Normally a shooting by an officer would be subject to an internal investigation but Police Chief Daniel Garcia, joined by Mayor Greg Stanton and other city officials called a press conference on Saturday to announce that his department will step aside, and turn the investigation over to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Garcia told reporters:
“Two days ago I had a face to face conversation with [Cusseaux’s mother] Frances Garret. I could see the hurt in her face and her words were very powerful, they touched my heart. The decision I made today tells the community that we’re open to look at ourselves and open to allow other agencies to make those tough decisions for us if we need to.”
Police have not released the name of the officer who fired the single shot that killed Cusseaux but CBS5 said that they had learned he was Sgt. Percy Dupra, a 19-year veteran police officer.
Chastened Phoenix police chief requests external investigation.
Watch a report on the decision below from CBS5.