PD Board: Cusseaux shooting was against policy

Posted at 6:52 AM, Sep 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-18 09:52:48-04

The Phoenix Police Department's Use of Force Board has found that the circumstances surrounding Michelle Cusseaux's death do not comply with department policy.

Cusseaux, 50, was shot in August 2014 after she came at Phoenix Police officers with a hammer. Police were called to the scene after she reportedly called and threatened her mental health facility.

Family called for an independent investigation into the woman's death. Her mother, who called authorities, has said she was just trying to get help for her daughter. 

Civil rights leader Rev. Jarrett Maupin and other community members also called for an outside investigation after Cusseaux's death.

According to Sgt. Trent Crump with Phoenix Police, the review board, which consists of three community members and three department employees, looked into the case on September 10.

The Police Chief has reportedly accepted the Board's recommendation.

Going forward, the case will be sent to the Disciplinary Review Board, made up of two community members and four employees, to determine the level of discipline for those involved.

The disciplinary board may decide upon suspension, demotion, termination or other.

Sgt.Dupra will have the option to appeal the disciplinary board's decision.  He is currently still on staff in a limited capacity position.

Those close to Cusseaux's mother, Frances Garrett, tell ABC 15 the news of the report caught her off guard and she has mixed emotions.  The report solidifies what Garrett's believed to be true all along but also validates that her daughter didn't have to die.

The Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association is disappointed in the findings and says it does not factor in the split second decision Sergeant Percy Dupra had to make.

"One of the things that popped into his head was 'Did I see and did I kiss my children today?' Sergeant Dupra felt like he was going to be killed that August afternoon by Miss Cusseuax as she came at him with a hammer." said PPSLA representative James Smith.

He says police officers should be held accountable for their actions but he belives the job is more dangerous than it has ever been.

"Not only do you have to worry about your application of force and getting home to your family, now you have to worry about the Monday morning quarterback and the second guessing by the community and that the police department is going to hyper-analyze your actions." said Smith.

The Maricopa County Attorney found the shooting to be justified but points out that means the Sergeant involved didn't break Arizona law with his use of force, police department policy is not factored in to that determination.