PHOENIX — A small group in Arizona on Monday protested a decision not to charge a police officer in the shooting death of a woman accused of shoplifting and threatening the lawman with scissors.
The shooting of 27-year-old Navajo woman Loreal Tsingine in March led tribal officials to urge the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the treatment of American Indians who live in towns that border the reservation.
Maricopa County prosecutor Bill Montgomery announced Friday that his office found no evidence of criminal conduct on the part of Winslow, Arizona, Officer Austin Shipley in Tsingine’s death.
About 20 people chanted “Justice for Loreal” and “Shame on Bill Montgomery” outside the prosecutor’s office in Phoenix as employees arrived for work Monday morning.
The Phoenix protest came amid a wave of demonstrations and racial tension over police shooting of black men as well as the fatal attacks on law enforcement officers.
Members of the Navajo Nation Council said in a statement they were appalled by Montgomery’s decision and demanded a federal investigation.
A phone number listed for Austin Shipley was disconnected, and it’s not clear whether he has an attorney.
Records show that at least two officers who trained Shipley had serious concerns about his work and that one recommended the police department not keep him on the force. The concerns included that he was too quick to go for his service weapon, ignored directives from superiors and falsified reports, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
Tsingine’s family has filed a $10.5 million notice of claim against the city, saying Shipley violated her civil rights and Winslow was negligent in “hiring, training, retaining, controlling and supervising” the police officer.
The wrongful-death claim, filed July 1, is a precursor to a lawsuit and seeks $2 million for Tsingine’s husband and $8.5 million for her 8-year-old daughter.
“Our position remains that even though (Shipley) may not be held criminally liable, it was careless for the city of Winslow to give him a gun and a badge,” said the Tsingine family’s Phoenix-based attorney, Robert Pastor.
Lawyers for the city have declined comment on the claim, saying it’s the city’s policy not to talk about pending litigation.
Shipley is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation that will be conducted by the Mesa Police Department, Winslow officials said Friday.
Shipley fired five shots at Tsingine after responding to a shoplifting call at a Winslow convenience store.
According to a police report, Shipley attempted to detain Tsingine, but she resisted arrest and was taken to the ground.
The officer said Tsingine swung the scissors at him, and he retreated with his gun drawn and gave multiple commands for her to stop and drop the scissors.
The police report said Tsingine didn’t comply and got up and aggressively ran at Shipley with scissors in hand before he fired. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Associated Press photographer Matt York contributed to this report.