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Police chief: ‘I’m sorry for what happened to Michelle Cusseaux’

PHOENIX — The officer-involved fatal shooting of a mentally-ill woman in Phoenix last week has prompted several criminal and administrative investigations.

Many people, including Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia, are wondering if Sgt. Percy Dupra used excessive force when he shot and killed Michelle Cusseaux.

“I want to make sure that the Phoenix Police Department and our community has answers to all the questions they have,” Garcia said.

Garcia also has asked the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to independently review the criminal investigation and make the final case decisions.

In the meantime, the chief is working to provide his officers with mental health-awareness training.

“It allows every officer to understand that when you’re dealing with somebody who is a danger to themselves or others that we have to slow things down, that we have to do things differently,” he explained.

Police were called Aug. 14 to a Maryvale apartment complex to serve an emergency mental health pickup order on Cusseaux. They say she lunged toward officers with a hammer above her head, and that is when Dupra shot her. Cusseaux later died at a hospital.

No matter what the investigations turn up, Garcia has a message regarding the shooting.

“I’m sorry for what happened to Michelle Cusseaux,” he said. “I give my condolences to Francis Garrett, her mother, and the family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.