Body of Mentally Ill Woman Killed by Phoenix Police Brought to City Hall by Family, Activists

Categories: News

michelle-cusseaux-casket.jpg
Matthew Hendley
The casket of Michelle Cusseaux outside Phoenix City Hall.
The body of a mentally ill black woman who was shot and killed by police was brought to Phoenix City Hall today by community activists and the slain woman's family, who demanded an external investigation into her death.

Michelle Cusseaux, 50, was fatally shot by Phoenix Police Officer Percy Dupra on August 14, after police say she threatened officers with a hammer when they went to serve a court order to deliver Cusseaux to a mental-health facility.

Community members have joined Cusseaux's mother in calling for an independent agency to investigate the killing, in addition to the Phoenix Police Department's own investigation, although Phoenix police haven't agreed to seeking an external investigation.

"We've had to take drastic measures," Cusseaux's mother Frances Garrett said, standing beside her daughter's casket outside City Hall.

See also:
-Phoenix Protesters Decry Shooting of Michael Brown; More Rallies This Weekend

Earlier this week, Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia announced that his department's officers will have to undergo more training on how to deal with citizens with mental-health issues, and that he's ordering more body-mounted cameras for officers.

Garcia released a statement promising a full investigation:

"My responsibility is to ensure that the investigation into this case is thorough, prompt and fair, and I know that doing so is critical for the residents we serve to trust and have full confidence in the department's ability to conduct its day-to-day operations. Answering the questions of Ms. Cusseaux's family is a priority of mine.

"The Phoenix Police Department is currently conducting two investigations into this incident, including a criminal investigation. In addition, I have asked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery to conduct a second - and independent - review of the criminal investigation. Further, the County Attorney's Office, which had staff on-scene during the investigation, will make the final case decisions and disposition."
Sabinus Megwa, an attorney for the family, said that's not good enough. He said he's let Garcia and Mayor Greg Stanton know they want an outside agency to investigate the shooting, and said he feared the Maricopa County Attorney's Office will "basically rubber-stamp what [Phoenix PD's investigation has] found."

michelle-cusseaux-photo.jpg
Matthew Hendley
A woman holding a photo of Michelle Cusseaux.

If Phoenix police don't seek an investigation from another agency by next week, these activists plan on turning their detention to the Justice Department, and seeking a federal investigation.

"There are a lot of mentally ill people in this city, and we don't want this to happen to anyone else," Megwa said.

Before Cusseaux's body was brought to City Hall today, Mayor Stanton and Chief Garcia agreed to participate in a community forum this weekend that's advertised as "an open and respectful discussion on what Ferguson [Missouri] could mean right here in Phoenix."

In Ferguson, an 18-year-old unarmed black man was shot and killed by police, leading to massive protests, and a brutal response from a militarized police force.

Local African-American attorney Charlene Tarver is moderating this weekend's community forum in Phoenix, and we asked her what we could expect out of this forum.

"With the history of shooting involving communities of color, I do believe there will be frustration," she said, but added, "The purpose of the Phoenix town hall is really to talk about solutions."

There was a local protest in response to Brown's killing in Missouri, and local congressional candidate Reverend Jarrett Maupin II cited tension between some communities and Phoenix police that existed before the Cusseaux shooting.

For example, there were protests of Phoenix police after the 2010 killing of resident Daniel Rodriguez by Officer Richard Chrisman, who eventually was sentenced to seven years in prison. At one point, the Phoenix police union held a BBQ fundraiser in support of Chrisman.

"[What's happening in Ferguson] could very well happen here," Maupin said last week. "It's happened here before. It'll happen again until we address the relationships between law enforcement leaders and the community."

UPDATE August 25: DPS with investigate the shooting death of Cusseaux. Click here for more details.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.



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131 comments
MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

The killing of a mentally ill person needs to be declared a hate crime.

I suspect that DPS and MontyPug will rubber stamp this senseless act of violence. There was no need to kill her.

Anyone wanna bet the cop who shot and killed her is white?

Amy Parker
Amy Parker

Change your profile pic please. ASAP. now. Soon. Please.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Phoenix PD = Violent Homicidal Neanderthal Thugs with badges and guns.

Uhmanica
Uhmanica

For every one of you that come down on the side of the cops.you know you're just trying to hide what you really feel.you racist dirtballs.because she was black you're happy they took her out.This is the dirty work you pay your taxes to have done in your name.your cops are the biggest “gansters” goin’.And you give them all the “arbitrary and discretionary power” to shoot first and then cover up the questions later.They’re your personal tax payer trained mercenaries.That goes for the Hispanic and Black cops too.They’re hired guns to keep the white community safe.If they don’t, they know they could be on the other end of a white cops’ gun.

she only had a hammer got damn it!But she was black, and mentally challenged and had a hammer to boot.

Really, just a hammer? 


And the thousands of dollars spent on training these bozos teaches them to handle that with bullets?


So you say that cops are just like you and me, that they don’t want to get hurt by a hammer?Well you taxpayers need to demand more effective training so that 2 or 3 or 4 cops can disarm a mentally challenged person with a hammer. But then again your true feelings are, you’re happy they’ve gotten rid of another one of “those people”. The hell with training.Train them to kill.

had that had been a white woman every opportunity would have been taken to disarm her with minimal harm.


Just call it what it is.If you’re white you’re alright, if you’re black and brown you can’t even stick around, you better get outta town or you’re going down!


Let’s just call a spade a spade.Too much history of racists cops in this state not to recognize it.


Yeah, you can tell I’m Black.And I know what is to be deliberately marginalized, criminalized, and hated unjustly.







LucyBabeu
LucyBabeu

Do you believe there is a police office on duty below, giving orders to stop.  Here is his comment:


CriticalThinkin

Stop making everything about you. Loony tune.


He won't tell us his real name, as usual, What a coward hiding behind a screen name.  And he thinks it is about me, if he knew how to read, he would see, I did say within my comment:

 Again, My Condolence go out to Michelle Cusseaux  family. Best regards, Lucy Babeu


Your critical thinkin is very limited and I do not take orders from you, no mater what command or name you call me. Good luck with your thinkin!!!!!!! Maybe, if you add the g to the end of your screen name thinkin, it might help you think better.


Marty Ercoline
Marty Ercoline

There's nothing like a bunch of people who have NEVER been employed as a peace officer, crabbing and bitching about the methods peace officers use to keep us SAFE every single day FROM THE WHACKOS who would kill us in a second if no one was there to stop,them. You CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS PEOPLE. Just respect the fact that some other human, than yourself, has decided to deal with the worst of human society EVERY SINGLE DAY!! I FOR ONE WILL TAKE THE BAD WITH THE GOOD!!

Antonio Maldonado
Antonio Maldonado

This is the future people. It's getting worse across the country. A police state is at hand

leopard.booty
leopard.booty

So, the cops get a call from a mental health facility to assist in getting the mentally ill individual to a medical facility for her condition.  This means that they sent more than one cop and possibly more than one squad car.  Which also means that she was confronted by 2 to 4 persons, who were taller, heavier, and carried lethal weapons.  Again:  the police were alerted and aware that they were to take a mentally ill person into a facility in which the individual was to receive medical help.


And the best they could do was kill her? 


They already knew and had discussed it among themselves what they would do.  Especially when they discovered that she was a black woman of little means.

fankromank555
fankromank555

Its PUNK cops liek this I just LOVE to hear about in the news getting clipped in the line of duty!


www.AnonCrypt.tk

Victor Calderon
Victor Calderon

I hate that where I was born and grew up, that it seems more racist have relocated here. go back to your racist states and towns, we don't want you here, who ever you are and you know who you are, "COWARDS"..

David Alcaraz
David Alcaraz

Hit it on the nail. Damned if you do damned if you don't

John Blevins
John Blevins

so wouldn't this constitute as a crime of illegal disposal of a body?

Corina Begay
Corina Begay

Whatever the circumstances. This woman should have been given a dignified private funeral. Not paraded down to city hall.

LucyBabeu
LucyBabeu

I would like to mention someone named John A. Loredo .  He is always on the AZ central on the Sunday Square off as a Political consultant. He touts himself being for the immigrants and their rights. Well here is one of his sites that he wants you to donate to: 

Center For Progressive Leadership - State Offices


He is called the Honorable John Loredo



But, let's look a little further on John A. Loredo  and see who he actually is:


Chief Lobbists for below:


http://www.zoominfo.com/p/John-Loredo/1902695I


Chief Lobbyist? John A Loredo? what the hell is going on? maybe I have the wrong John Loredo" Someone please tell me I am wrong?


Here is the Company that John Loredo is behind:


Company Description: AZCOPS believes that all Arizona public safety employees (sworn or civilian) should be provided with fair wages and benefits, consistent with their professional...


No. wonder there is so much corruption with the cops!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Deanna Rees
Deanna Rees

She was coming at them with a hammer for goodness sake.

LucyBabeu
LucyBabeu

My Condolences go out to Michelle Cusseaux

It is sad that it takes Michelle being shot for it to be a story.


What it is even more sad, that some of the people on here after she is dead, think they have a right to put her down and make light of her mental illness, and justify the police action of shooting her dead as the only option.


 It is amazing that what shocks some of you is a coffin, when that is the reality that the family is left with. Maybe you would rather have them open the casket and show you what the bullets the cops damage did to her body?


I know from experience the bullying from cops that goes on in AZ, starting by Sheriff Paul Babeu , his deputies and Judge Shaun Babeu and their lawyers.


 It has all been covered up with help with the newspaper. They feel it is not a story until I am shot dead.


I can tell you with back up documents, I have never been declared mental even though a few people on here, will start calling me that right after I leave this comment.


Sheriff Paul, has been falsely claiming this for years, along with his deputies, Judge Shaun Paul and other Police agencies in AZ. I have tried unsuccessful .to get help for the threats I have been receiving. But, no one thinks it is newsworthy. Including this newspaper.


I have not being able to come to AZ with the threats of being harmed by Sheriff Paul Babeu, his deputies, and Judge Shaun Babeu since Sept. 2009. . All based on rumors that I am mentally ill.


I was not allowed at my own mother's funeral January 27, 2013. I was the only one out of 11 brothers and sisters .not allowed per order of Sheriff Paul Babeu.


Now on July 9, 2014 Sheriff Paul Babeu and Judge Shaun Babeu hired 4 Mesa Police Officer with Guns just to stop me.


These 4 Mesa Police were hired and giving  orders by Sheriff Paul that he hadt had a crazy sister named Lucy Babeu from MA coming and they were to do anything they could to stop her from attending wake and funeral.


They were paid with cash by Sheriff Paul Babeu which is illegal.


 My sister Veronica Keating and her children from AZ were also told she was not allowed to attended because she was coming with me.


This was sent in a text messages from Judge Shaun Babeu from his office.


This service was open to the public and this was not my father's wishes.

Any homeless person off the street could have attended.


I did not attended, so my sister Veronica could go with her children. But, Sheriff Paul and Judge Shaun did not know this. So, when Veronica Keating arrived with her children, they were very frightened to see the four Mesa police officers with guns looking at her in her car. 


To me this is a criminal act. What does it take for something to be done about  this? Everyone thinks I need to be shot first, then it is a story.


The true mental illness is these Police officers and everyone that supports this sick behavior. And if people think this is ok , go right ahead and take away my civil rights. Because one day, the story will get out and I do not need to be dead to do it or in the State of AZ, as all the Poiice Office from Mesa state,  or State elected agencies or corrupted officer, or newspaper etc believe........ good luck with your cover-up........


Again, My Condolence go out to Michelle Cusseaux  family. Best regards, Lucy Babeu

 .








Nathan Schneider
Nathan Schneider

Gone are the days when police officers wrestled around with people. The world we live in today teaches law enforcement to use whatever force is necessary to eliminate a threat. Anybody in a similar situation would do the same. If someone comes at me with a hammer, I will use the most effective method of disabling that person.

Nathan Schneider
Nathan Schneider

Probably because investigations found their actions to be necessary. This isn't a conspiracy.

Nathan Schneider
Nathan Schneider

Tired of arguing this issue. It is very simple. Nobody wants to be attacked. If I had a gun and felt threatened, then I would probably use it. I'm not sure why you people don't understand that police officers don't want to be harmed and will use whatever force necessary to eliminate the threat. If you don't want a violent, mentally ill person to be shot, then don't send people with guns to apprehend him/her.

Lolly Rae Ma Rocco
Lolly Rae Ma Rocco

Nathan, I'm sure you can come up with some alternatives between the extremes of shooting them and letting them. Don't be simple.

LucyBabeu
LucyBabeu

Yes, Amy Parker, That  would be a great idea if you would change your profile pic please. ASAP . now. Soon, Please  

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@Uhmanica 

Shoot first and make up the lies later has become the motto for several police agencies in the US.

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

@Uhmanica I think you should generate all your energies and your rhetoric towards black on black murder's that's a much bigger issue for you and yours then demonizing all our local law enforcement . 99% of young black men being murdered are not by the police its by other blacks

CriticalThinkin
CriticalThinkin

There you go again...this story isn't about you or your deranged brother. It's disgusting how you are trying to Siphon off of this story and take away from what this family is going through. No one likes the "one-upper". That's what you are attempting and it's disgusting.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

The only thing it appears people have to be afraid of is those are are suppose to protect them.

AkaTed
AkaTed

read my comment's jack@ass 


AkaTed
AkaTed

Peta might have shit fit over this but if Sheriff Joe and his GOON SQUAD can buy a TANK for Illegal Immigrants use it on crack houses we can certainly afford to buy this item and save people life's 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

A hammer! ... Oh my!! ... Lions and Tigers and BEARS!. ...OH MY!

patsyphillips_az
patsyphillips_az

Really?  And just where did she get a hammer?  She was afraid and probably saw them coming at her? How far away were the officers when she wielded up the hammer?  And why didn't they have tasers for this episode, after all, they were not going to pick up a murderer? Why were the police called anyway?....why not someone more trained for this type of person.... and, if someone threw a hammer at me, I think I could just jump out of the way.

Sinthor
Sinthor

And it's too much to expect a "highly trained" 19 year veteran officer and his partner to be able to handle a 50 year old woman with a hammer without shooting her, right?  This is what's wrong with us today...there is no more accountability for police.  It's ridiculous that they could not handle her without using guns.  Even if they got dinged a couple of times, so what?  That's their job!  Are firemen going to stop rescuing people from burning buildings now because they might die or be injured if they try?  No, that's what they're paid to do!


Police used to go and disarm subjects with knives that were disturbed or other situations like this one.  Now they are trained to simply use lethal force.  As long as they "feel threatened" that's all that's needed and they go on with their jobs.  If you have a relative in need of forced assistance DON'T call the police unless you want them killed.  You need to take the risks yourself, if you love them, because the police just don't do that kind of thing anymore.  It's ridiculous, and it's changed during the past 20 years during which time LESS officers have been hurt or killed on the job than before!  They don't even have one of the top 5 most dangerous occupations yet now they are above all the rules and laws that apply to citizens when it comes to use of force.  Why??  This has to change.  You may think there's no need, but wait till it happens to you or one of your family.  THEN what will you think?  We need to wake up and demilitarize our police force and start forcing them to be accountable for their actions. They should no longer be able to kill people or our pets without any real accountability.  And yes, they say there is "investigation" and accountability right now but everyone knows it's basically a wink and nod type of thing.  Again, look at how many instances of this type of thing there is and how many times the officers are justified, even when they're completely in the wrong just because it is said that they "felt threatened."  Time for a change, people!

Uhmanica
Uhmanica

@john043012 @Uhmanica 



Yeah 012, I should listen to you and “your rhetoric’.


You just wish I would do that.Just do as you say, “like a good little boy” right?Well zero, I think my energies are better spent generated on you and your misinformed and factually wrong rhetoric.


Firstly, I will give credit where it is due.True, you are right, black on black crime is high.However,white on white crime is almost just as high zero12.Not to mention you’ve grossly exaggerated your numbers on my people.You arrogantly dare to use the 99% number.You’re such a typical scared and insecure white male.


No misrepresentation is off limits for you to continue the marginalizing, demonizing, and criminalizing of men of color, especially black men.I know your insecurity and neurosis zero12.


You guys have always been so neurotic about our presence.You’ve even given your neurosis to your women.Though you’ve never had any reason to be afraid of us (except for your inhuman enslavement of us), your history shows you always somehow seem to manufacture insecurity about us and others who are different than you.


FACT:9 of 10 black victims of murder are committed by a black person.


FACT:8 of 10 white victims of murder are committed by a white person.


Most murders are “intraracial”, i.e. murders are often committed by people who know one another.Murder is just as segregated as the rest of this damn country.


Your point about black on black murder is no point at all.White on white murder is just as prevalent.


I would accuse you of trying to deliberately confuse the point zero12.However, I’ll just clarify things and note that no one suggested that 99% of young black male murders are committed by LEOs.That is something you are putting out there.


Staying on topic, this article IS about the gangster, demon, criminals that wear a badge and a gun who exercise law enforcement as they determine what it should be.So often it’s at the end of their gun barrel, and so often it’s directed at a person of color.And especially in a blood “red” state like this one.


Keep your rhetoric zero12.


LucyBabeu
LucyBabeu

@CriticalThinkin 

Hey, @CriticalThinkin, I take offense to you calling my brother deranged. He has a mental illness and he cannot help it. If you are going to call him a name, he goes by studboi1.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@Sinthor 

Just wait when people start shooting them first and asking questions later...thats what its coming to. They are bringing it on themselves.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@CriticalThinkin 

LOL, you of all people shouldn't be calling anyone looneytoon

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