The mother of a mentally ill black woman shot to death by a Phoenix Police Officer applauds findings made by a use of force panel. The board found Officer Percy Dupra’s actions dealing with Michelle Cusseaux went against police policy, but that he was not trained to handle situations involving the mentally ill.

Cusseaux’s mother, Francis Garrett, says, Phoenix is making history with this decision because it will serve as a model for other cities to follow in terms of how officers should handle confrontations with the mentally ill. Current city policy calls for notifying the patient’s family and calling in the city’s Mental Health Unit, both of which Dupra failed to do, but, the Reverend Jarrett Maupin points out, is now more blatant protocol in light of the tragic shooting.

Dupra’s fate now lies with the Police Disciplinary Board. It could call for his suspension, demotion or firing.  Dupra shot and killed Cusseaux in August 2014, after, he says, she raised a hammer against him during a mental health call to her apartment.  Despite the board’s findings, Garrett still plans to sue the city over her daughter’s death.
 

–Barbara Villa

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