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Funeral procession honors fallen Navajo police officer

FARMINGTON – People lined the streets Friday as the funeral procession honoring a Navajo Nation police officer made its way through Farmington.

Members of the United States Marine Corps hand over an American flag to the family of fallen officer Alex Kee Yazzie at his funeral. (Alexa Rogals/The Daily Times/The Associated Press)

Members of the United States Marine Corps hand over an American flag to the family of fallen officer Alex Kee Yazzie at his funeral. (Alexa Rogals/The Daily Times/The Associated Press)

Law enforcement officers from across the country and residents from throughout the Four Corners region gathered for the funeral of 42-year-old Alex Yazzie.

Yazzie, of Crownpoint, was fatally shot during a March 19 shootout between tribal police and Justin Fowler near the Arizona-New Mexico state line.

Fowler led police on a high-speed pursuit from a home in Shiprock, N.M., where he allegedly had been beating his wife and mother.

Authorities say Fowler also wounded two officers before being killed by police in Red Valley, Ariz.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset Friday in honor of Yazzie.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly called on federal and state lawmakers to provide more funding to the tribe’s public safety services and a full review by Navajo officials of tribal laws pertaining to public safety.

“The laws we have are outdated, we need to change it,” Shelly said.

Navajo Nation police officers bow their heads during a prayer at Pinon Hills Community Church in Farmington at the funeral of fallen officer Alex Kee Yazzie on Friday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times/The Associated Press)

Navajo Nation police officers bow their heads during a prayer at Pinon Hills Community Church in Farmington at the funeral of fallen officer Alex Kee Yazzie on Friday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times/The Associated Press)

Among the achievements listed in the eulogy was Yazzie’s selection in February 2002 as the first criminal enforcement officer for the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.

In April 2012, he transferred to the Navajo police department and was assigned to the Shiprock District.

Rolanda Cowboy, one of Yazzie’s nieces, remembered her uncle as possessing a unique laugh and love for his children.

Pastor Alvin Cayatineto of the Souls of Life Fellowship Church in Standing Rock used part of his message to comment on the number of public safety personnel in attendance at Yazzie’s funeral, some coming from as far away as Chicago or from the Jicarilla Apache, Oglala Sioux and Southern Ute tribes.

“This shows a respect that they have for their brother. Being here shows the commitment to each other and to your colleague,” Cayatineto said.

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