- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Phoenix officials will consider disciplining a police officer who shot a mentally ill woman.

Police were serving a mental health pickup in August 2014 when they say 50-year-old Michelle Cusseaux confronted officers with a hammer over her head. Sgt. Percy Dupra fatally shot her, according to the Arizona Republic (https://bit.ly/1QLF6xP).

An internal Phoenix Police Department panel made up of three employees and three community members has found the shooting did not fall within policy. Chief Joe Yahner approved the Use of Force Board’s findings, which will be sent to the Disciplinary Review Board.

That board is made up of four department employees and two community members who can recommend suspension, demotion or termination.

Dupra can appeal the disciplinary decision.

Cusseaux’s death outraged parts of the community, with some protesters marching her casket through downtown Phoenix shortly afterward. They wanted an outside agency to investigate the shooting.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in March that he would not file charges against Dupra, noting Cusseaux had drugs and alcohol in her system.

Rev. Jarrett Maupin has represented Cusseaux’s family members. He says this recent development is a step toward justice.

“But we’re not in the clear yet,” he said. “The family is on pins and needles with respect to the findings of the disciplinary board.”

Councilman Michael Nowakowski chairs the Phoenix public safety and veteran’s subcommittee, and says he feels the Use of Force Board made the right decision. He advocated for patience as the process continues.

“Sometimes we overreact, and that muddies the vision of what’s going on,” he said. “This is a process. So far, I believe in the process, and hopefully the next phase of it will work out.”


Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com

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