Independent probe demanded after police kill mentally ill woman - Tucson News Now

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Independent probe demanded after police kill mentally ill woman

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Francis Garret (Source: CBS 5 News) Francis Garret (Source: CBS 5 News)
Sgt. Percy Dupra (Source: Facebook) Sgt. Percy Dupra (Source: Facebook)
Sgt. Percy Dupra (Source: Phoenix Police Department) Sgt. Percy Dupra (Source: Phoenix Police Department)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The mother of Michelle Cusseaux and her supporters are demanding the city of Phoenix get an outside agency to do an independent review of the police shooting death of Cusseaux.

Francis Garret, along with Rev. Jarrett Maupin and others paid a visit to Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton on Monday. Garret said she called mental health organizations to get her daughter help and get her into in-patient treatment.

"This was the result. I didn't phone them and ask for my daughter to be killed. I did not ask for Michelle to be another statistic here, another homicide. I did not call them for that reason," said Garret.

On Thursday, police showed up at Cusseaux's apartment near 55th Avenue and Indian School Road to serve an order for an emergency mental health pick-up. According to Phoenix police, they knew Cusseaux had multiple mental health issues and that she had threatened to shoot clinical staff if they came to her apartment.

Police say Cusseaux refused to comply with their requests to step outside through a locked security screen door and shut the interior door.

They then picked the lock on the security door to attempt to contact her. That's when police say Cusseaux flung the interior door open and stood their with a hammer in her hand. After repeated commands to drop the hammer police say she lunged toward the officers.

One shot was fired, and Cusseaux died. No officers were hurt.

"We make the demand for them to complete their investigation of the shooting of Michelle Cusseaux. But also extend an invitation to an alternate law enforcement agency, someone besides the Phoenix Police Department to conduct an independent investigation," said Maupin.

He added, "We're also calling on the city to make reforms within the police department. We don't ever want another killing. We don't want another person suffering from mental illness to be a victim of police brutality of excessive force."

The activists are also demanding police release the name of the officer who shot Cusseaux. Phoenix police have not done so publicly, but CBS 5 News has learned the shooter is Sgt. Percy Dupra, a 19-year Phoenix police veteran. 

The President of the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association (PPSLA), Sgt. Sean Mattson issued the following statement Friday in regards to Dupra and the lethal force incident under review.

"The worst day in the life and the career of any police officer is the emergency 911 call when he or she must use lethal force. These split-second, life-or-death decisions stay with police officers for the rest of our lives, long after we retire from the Department.

"Our Phoenix Police Department colleague, Sgt. Percy Dupra, continues to work through the tragic aftermath of the past few days. So does every member of our Department. Every member of the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association fervently hopes that our community will respect the investigative process in this case and avoid rushing to judgment in the media and in the street.

"The facts of this incident will come out. The investigative process will reach its conclusion. Only once that is complete can our community have a balanced, responsible conversation about public safety and how best to deal with these dangerous, sometimes tragic incidents.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Sergeant Dupra, his family, the loved ones of Michelle Cusseaux and the residents of Phoenix."

Dupra joined the department in December of 1994. He was promoted to sergeant in 2011. CBS 5 news has requested his city personnel file through a public records request.

In 2003, Dupra was involved in an on duty crash in his patrol car. He suffered a broken leg. He is not listed on the Law Enforcement Integrity Database, commonly referred to as the Brady List.

According to a statement released by Stanton's press secretary, when the meeting took place they offered a moment of prayer.

The statement went on to say:

He (Stanton) also listened to the family's concerns about the ongoing investigation.  He said he understood their request for a second, independent investigation into what happened, as well as their desire for evaluation of police officer training on how to deal with the mentally ill.  Stanton said he would work closely with the police department and the city manager to address any further concerns.

Maupin said they gave the city a deadline of Thursday to let them know whether they will call for an independent review.

"Thursday, we'll need an answer from them. If it's not the answer that we're all looking for, we'll be back and we'll do everything that we're entitled to do as citizens to find recourse in this situation," said Maupin.

State law requires a police officers go through a block of training in the academy in dealing with the mentally ill.  Phoenix police could not confirm whether it's a three or four hour class.

The department also mandates officers watch a three part video series on mental illness and dealing with mentally unstable people after graduation.

Officers can also voluntarily take 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training specifically geared for law enforcement. According to the Phoenix Police Department, approximately 270 officers have received CIT training.

The police department is conducting an internal investigation to determine if policy was followed. They are also conducting a criminal investigation into the Cusseaux homicide, but it will be up to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office whether any charges are filed against Dupra.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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