Board upholds PHX PD demotion in fatal shooting

Posted at 2:55 PM, Apr 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-14 23:40:19-04

The Civil Service Board has voted to uphold the demotion of a Phoenix police sergeant over a deadly 2014 shooting.

The board voted 3-1 on Thursday to uphold the Dec. 3 decision demoting Percy Dupra from his position as sergeant, prompted after the 2014 incident that left Michelle Cusseaux dead.

Dupra had appealed the demotion, which led to several February hearings and Thursday's final review.

In response to the board's decision, his lawyer said the ruling would be harmful for other law enforcement officers in the future.

"This decision, by both the Phoenix Police Department and the Civil Service Board, is both disappointing and sends a dangerous message to the men and women who serve and protect the citizens of Phoenix," the statement read. "This incident went through two separate, independent reviews that determined that Sergeant Dupra’s actions were justified. But these outside investigations were ignored, and based upon political pressure, Sergeant Dupra was demoted."

In 2014, officers were called to a Phoenix apartment complex to serve an emergency mental health pickup order on 50-year-old Cusseaux.

Investigators say Dupra shot Cusseaux when she allegedly charged police while wielding a hammer.

Two other officers failed to tell Dupra that Cusseaux had a hammer and made threats to the officers. So it wasn't until he went up to her door and was just feet away from her, that he realized the true danger.

Because Dupra should have had the right information, the disciplinary panel decided he violated policy for "failing to control the situation."

"The Department’s choice to use 20/20 hindsight to judge tactical decisions that end in a tragedy places officers in unnecessary danger," Dupra's lawyer said. "It will create a chilling effect on officers being able to appropriately respond to deadly threats."

Cusseaux's family says she struggled with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but didn't have a violent history.