Fear of Ferguson: PPD Chief Garcia's New Stance on Officer Shootings Rings Hollow

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Phoenix Police Department video
PPD Chief Garcia, speaking of Michelle Cusseaux's mother: "I could see the hurt in her face, and her words...touched my heart."
Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia waxed eloquent during an unusual Saturday press conference, where he announced that the Arizona Department of Public Safety would be tasked with the criminal investigation of the shooting death of Michelle Cusseaux.

Four police officers responded to Cusseaux's West Phoenix apartment on August 14, ostensibly to pick her up and take her to get mental-health care. At one point, according to the Phoenix Police Department, Cusseaux, 50, emerged from her residence brandishing a hammer.

Subsequently, Sergeant Percy Dupra, a 19-year veteran of the force, shot Cusseaux, who was taken to a hospital, where she died.

At the press conference, Garcia spoke of his face-to-face meeting with Cusseaux's mom, Frances Garrett, a couple of days earlier.

The chief said "the hurt in her face" and Garrett's words "touched my heart."

Based on the conversation, Garcia said, he asked the DPS to take over the criminal investigation of the shooting.

Normally, in all such officer-involved shootings, the Phoenix Police Department performs both internal and criminal investigations.

A review of the criminal investigation by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for possible charges is standard.

But on the Wednesday before the presser, Garcia issued a statement making it sound as if he was doing something different by asking County Attorney Bill Montgomery to "conduct a second -- and independent -- review of the [PPD's] criminal investigation."

In the same press release, Garcia stated that his department's "heartfelt thoughts" were with Cusseaux's family.

Still, the family wanted the criminal investigation done by an outside agency, and Garcia dutifully complied, one day after Cusseaux's family and its supporters marched her coffin through the streets of Phoenix to City Hall.

Garcia did not mention whether this unusual display influenced his decision.

But he did invoke the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting of unarmed Michael Brown by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson sparked protests, rioting, and an overreaction by police involving the use of weaponry and tactics more akin to the situation in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk than what we expect in the land of the free.

Garcia cited the "emotion, anger, and, yes, mistrust" toward law enforcement exhibited in Ferguson and nationally. He said the Phoenix Police Department needed to overcome such misgivings.

"I want our department to stand for those issues of democracy and justice," he said. "But I also want the Phoenix Police Department to be known for compassion and trust."

Admirable sentiments, to be sure. Garcia also said he wants body cameras on all his cops, um, eventually. Among other promises, he's decreed that all employees should receive a couple hours of training in dealing with the mentally ill.

Sounds good, right?


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38 comments
Brittney Roberts
Brittney Roberts

^^^^ Jim Thomas really!? What about Keith Vidal? Or countless other white victims ? Comments like that is what keeps people focused on the shiny object dangling in the corner rather than the truth infront of our faces. This is a national human rights issue & has nothing to do with race, but control. My son has a neurological issue that terrifies me as a mother, for him to EVER come into contact with the police. & We're white!

Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas

Garcia has no back bone period!!!!!! stand up for your department, don't let a few start making laws. The cop did what he was trained to do, if was a white women this would never have made the news!!!

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

The BLM de-escalated the Bundy ranch protests by whites and avoided a riot but the Fergeson cops couldn't do that in those protests there.  IT WAS A POLICE RIOT!  The cops in Fergeson were incompetent boobs and should have been sanctioned by the State.

3214255
3214255

@FRONTERA Yahner wasn't selected as Chief because there were people in the chief interview process who he had previously fucked over.  Yahner flubbed his interview horribly (how ironic?). They made sure he didn't get the position.  Ain't paybacks a bitch Joe?  You fucked with the wrong guy and later he had the power to influence your career path!  Paybacks are a bitch aren't they?

Joe, now you got to work for this incompetent prick instead of fucking up the organization yourself.  Joe Yahner, my father once told me, "Be careful how you treat those you pass on the way to the top as you are sure to pass them on the way back to the bottom!"  Enjoy your ride down! 

Angela Coulombe
Angela Coulombe

What this state should really work on is preventative care and education for the mentally ill. If this woman had access to better services this may not have happened. It's a tragedy for all the people involved. I'm a social worker in this state and work with the mentally ill population and I've also worked for CPS. Both systems need a lot of work, but they need a community that cares for the people. It's really simple it comes down to who you vote for and where the money comes from. I feel very sad for this woman's mother, because she lost her child. I feel sad for the woman who thought she needed to swing a hammer when she opened her front door because maybe her paranoia and delusions were getting the best of her. And I feel sad for the officer that I had to make that decision to fire his weapon at human being that was suffering from mental illness.

Tyburn Gallows
Tyburn Gallows

Cop cams won't help, but they will extend the surveillance state and gather incriminating video evidence against you which, as this article says, will then be used to rule the use of force against you as "in policy." And then to charge you (if you're alive) with resisting arrest or assault. My guess is that prosecutors, armed with what will be viewed by courts as incontrovertible video proof, will start charging more of these "human reaction crimes" (i.e. when a cop escalates an encounter, uses force against you and you do what comes natural to humans in those kinds of situations). And they'll probably offer stiffer pleas and people will get harsher sentences as a result. Not to mention that the cops will have similar evidence of anything else they find/observe along the way. How long until warrants are issued based on evidence accumulated by these cams and viewed or filtered by algorithms later? Give the police a new technology and you can bet they will abuse it, just like tasers before this. Courts and media will treat the video as the official story because it is filed from the officer's perspective. It's simple: that cop cam is pointed at you not the officer. It's watching you with the intent of changing your behavior. I'm for filming cops, but that's not what cop cams do.

FRONTERA
FRONTERA

Colorado cops have great program with mentall ill  and cops de -escalation  training ...

FRONTERA
FRONTERA

I thought Home Town guy J. Yahner  should have ben Chief . But some pension spiking dude thought  otherwise... And I don't give  a SHIT how they do it in  Texas...

rh19541954
rh19541954

The only consolation I have in life is those on this earth who do wrong under the color of law, do not really get away with it in the end, since they do not experience any guilt on average since they have justified their crimes in their minds eye, and guilt is a necessary requirement to feel need to ask Jesus for sincere forgiveness, hence they are highly unlikely to ever sincerely repent and that lake of fire is for eternity, no prison, nothing mortal man can do to our mortal bodies can compare to what God has in store for the sinners soul!

rh19541954
rh19541954

Unfortunately television shows like Cops, Law and Order etc., seem to have glorified cops, prosecutors as saints, and when they torture, gain a confession via illegal means the audience gives a wink and nod since the bad guys did not really deserve their constitutional rights anyway, funny how some constantly talk about being strict constitutionalists in voting but turn a blind eye to things which are in direct contest with the constitution! It Is kind of like water boarding during world war II was a war crime but now we seem to see it as "enhanced interrogation" seems power can make a wrong right and when one goes down that slippery slope one ends up doing as the old bible says what does a man gain if he gains the entire world and loses his soul in the process!

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

What sucks ass is that the Americans with disabilities act really doesn't define what qualifies as a disability.

I think each state should have an American's with disabilities act, and list what types of disabilities qualify. The federal statute needs to be updated as well.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

We'll see what happens and if anything at all comes from all this.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

What's needed is a thorough up-down, right-left review and evaluation of current use of deadly force doctrine. I've been saying this since forever, but many of these shootings can be avoided whenever the perp is unarmed, meaning no gun. If they and any bystanders are not in imminent, and I do mean imminent danger, they should back off, regroup, request backup and figure out what to do next. If I were investigating the Casseaux killing, I'd start with the assumption that it wasn't a clean shooting. That officers had not done enough to de-escalate the situation before drawing their weapons. 'Course now, there are plenty of cop groupies out there who will say I'm full of it. But, ya know, should anyone near and dear to them get wasted in a questionable police use of deadly force, they just might have a different take on things.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

A couple of hours training to deal with someone who is mentally ill is insufficient.

There needs to be a class, running for about two weeks, at the police academy. All officers should be required to attend it.

Then we need the idiots at the state capitol to close loopholes in state law that prevent this incident from happening.

DnicholsISaKooK
DnicholsISaKooK

Houston Police Department, from whence Garcia came, is a complete joke. Garcia is using PPD to pad his resume'...it'll be for the best when this moron pulls stakes.

Hock
Hock

Must feel good to work for Phoenix PD knowing the Chief doesn't trust your skills or integrity.

royalphoenix
royalphoenix

This guy is just another 4star wanna be. These jokers promote themselves to 0-10, hang 4 stars on their collar, and think it earns them respect.It proves beyond any doubt that he thinks of himself as some sort of paramilitary commander. What a joke. peace

3214255
3214255

@FRONTERA Yahner wasn't selected as Chief because there were people in the chief interview process who he had previously fucked over.  Yahner flubbed his interview horribly (how ironic?). They made sure he didn't get the position.  Ain't paybacks a bitch Joe?  You fucked with the wrong guy! 

Joe, now you got to work for this incompetent prick instead of fucking up the organization yourself.  Joe Yahner, my father once told me, "Be careful how you treat those you pass on the way to the top as you are sure to pass them on the way back to the bottom!"  Enjoy your ride down!

Hock
Hock

@Cozz How many police contacts with mentally ill happen in any given period of time?  How can you say the police are failing without knowing?



MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

I agree Eric. Arizona's definition of justified lethal force is so vague as to be unconstitutional.

Remember the case of the guy who was killed over a case of beer?

LucyBabeu
LucyBabeu

@eric.nelson745 


Eric, you make a excellent point about the whole situation. There were enough Police officers to handle the situation differently.

This situation was handled wrong by the police officers.

 I agree with MaskedMagician 1967 that more than a couple of hours of training is needed.


The police officers put a lot of hours into target practice with their guns.


They lack communication skills, knowledge about ethic groups other than their own, sensitivity training, behavioral issues, and lack training in deescalating volatile situations.  And because of this, they resort to what they know best--shoot first.

Then it is said, to the public;:

How dare you ask questions later and not trust their skills and integrity!


Personally, I do not feel right that there is one dead woman, named Michelle Cusseaux,  and a lot people are bitching about the 4 officers having a internal investigation done that shot her to death.


Well, if these officers, were in their right mind, they should not care where or who does the investigation, and stand by their damn gun and bullets.. Again Eric, great comment!. Best regards, Lucy Babeu



jbunny
jbunny

@MaskedMagician1967 

Agreed. And it's a joke anyway that they're going to train officers on dealing with people who are mentally ill. That idea's been tossed around for decades, and it's a long-standing problem in many states. In the late 90's I worked in mental health when I was just starting my career, and our clients were shot by police on several occasions. We facilitated a training for Phx PD, and supposedly there would be task forces to specifically address the needs of the mentally ill within the PD. Not only did that never happen, but I distinctly remember one of the cops asking if you should treat someone who's mentally ill with respect if they didn't understand what was happening anyway. I'm dead serious.

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

@Hock It's not so much the chief, rather the community, who feels that way. It's NOT unusual for law enforcement agencies to have another agency conduct shooting investigations. In many cases cities and counties have 'shoot' teams that do only police involved shootings, with investigators from many agencies on those teams. 


It's actually better for those officers involved, in the long run. 

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

@royalphoenix Well, ya know, they are the civilian equivalent of a 4-star general. Perfectly legit. Right?

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@Hock 

Really doesn't matter how many. Its a matter of how to deal with the situation when it does happen. 1 death is to many when it could have been avoided.

Hock
Hock

@LucyBabeu @eric.nelson745 I think they should withstand an investigation.  The public is owed an investigation.  I don't disagree one little bit.


I just think the Chief has totally disrespected every member of the Phoenix Police Department.  

Hock
Hock

@TommyCollins @Hock With the exception of Oregon, I know of no other area that has tried consolidated agency investigation and continued the practice.  It's a failed experiment as far as I'm concerned.  I think it's absurd for a department like Phoenix to ask an outside agency to do their investigation.


If I was on the Phoenix shooting team, I'd be giving the Chief the middle finger...but that's just my opinion.


There are civil remedies to solve the issues for which you are seeking a solution, and the burden of proof is much lower.

LucyBabeu
LucyBabeu

@TommyCollins @Hock 


It is not only better for those officers involved, in the long run, if they have skills or integrity that are trustworthy, they should not worry or have a problem with who investigates it.


I believe in fairness, it always should be an outside agency.

royalphoenix
royalphoenix

@eric.nelson745  Don't think it is legal.  I have not heard one talking head mention the military insignias they all seem to think they rate. In order to pin one star on your collar you need the president to sign off and the senate to confirm. The sheriff of Pinal county also has the full fruit salad on his uniform. 4 stars was Washington's rank in the revolution before there were any police in this country. peace 

LucyBabeu
LucyBabeu

@danzigsdaddy @LucyBabeu


Thank you for explaining yourself. I appreciate your knowledge and further educating me on how investigation takes place. I respect your opinion.



But, I have to make a comment about an incidence that happen today in North Adams, MA.. I believe this relates to the incidence with Police in AZ. The Police demonstrated the same unprofessional and untrained behavior while trying to approach a person with disabilities.


 There were Four North Adam Police Officers that came to a disabled person's apartment  and tried to gain entry with force with no search warrant, with no probable cause or justification. Their only reason was to illegal arrest her and to say she was mentally ill and they were going to section her to a mental ward based on the fact that they thought she was taping them when they were pounding forcibly at her door. The disabled women refused to let them in and pushed the button to her link to life.


This activated a emergency call for help in her apartment which was then automatically being recorded by Link to Life. .

This action by the disabled person infuriated the officers. When  she engaged the link to life voice for help, the officers tried to overpower her voice by demanding to know her counselors name. This had nothing to do with the situation and is confidential anyway if she had one.


The disabled women said to the link to life person that she had four police officer at her door illegal trying to forcibly gain entrance into her apartment, they did not have a warrant or a cause to arrest her, they were accusing her of taping when she was not, and were threatening to commit her to a mental ward and section her.  The woman asked to please send immediate help of the state police because they were still trying to illegal gain entrance. All this happened with another disabled person present in her apartment.


Once the Police outside her door realized they were being recorded by the Link to Life,  they seized trying to force their way in. 


To me, it is criminal that the police believe that can behave and threaten citizens unlawful without consequences to obtain their own objectives by blatantly  violating disabled people's rights.


On this point, thankfully this women had  Link to Life because I  believe, If she did not, she would have been harmed, shot, and/or  arrested. and committed and never heard from again..


I would like to end with, the Police officers talked with the other disabled witnessed and said, that she is Paul Babeu sister and the Officers said she was Mentally Ill and we all know about her from her brother.


The person's apartment, who the North Adams, Police Department  forcible  tried to gain entrance to  was me, Lucy Babeu


I would like to end with, this is the second time that a incidence with Police officers have been involved with a crime against me, involving Paul Babeu. The first one was on July 9,2014 when he hired four Mesa Police Officer to stop me from attending my father's funeral. They were paid cash by Paul and Shaun Babeu. They were told they had a crazy sister coming from MA to AZ and they were to stop her at the front entrance of the wake and funeral. This service was open to the Public.


Danzigsdaddy, I called Mesa Police Department and they refuse to do a internal Affairs Investigation about this. They refuse to tell me who the Office were or let me do a Public information Request. This needs to be done because it was not done above board- not on payroll.


Pinal County Sheriff Department refused me a Public Information request concerning these four Mesa officers.


Everyone is hiding who these four off duty Officers were. This is public information and I am not allowed to get it.


Not only was I not allowed to attended my father's funeral with a threat from Paul and Shaun Babeu, I was not allowed to attended my Mother's funeral on January 27, 2013.


The reason I am sharing this is because I fear for my life and this is no joke.  I feel the more people that know , the better. If you have any suggestions, I would appreciate it.

I am trying to be fair to you, and my hopes that you and others will take this serious and be fair to me.

I do take a risk by sharing this. More retaliation with come to me as a result.


Well, my friend Danzigsdaddy, thanks for sharing and listening. Best regards. Lucy Babeu


TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

@Hock


It's been a long time since I was active, Hock, so I can't say what's happening today. In my twenty years I was in three incidents where I had to shoot. The first two were handled by my agency, The third was handled by a shoot team. All three were justified and considered 'clean' shootings. 

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