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Family suing city of Phoenix over woman’s death in police shooting

PHOENIX — The city of Phoenix is being sued over a police shooting death of a mentally ill woman last August.

The family of Michelle Cusseaux is demanding that the city pay them $7 million for their pain and suffering.

Phoenix police said that Cusseaux, who was 50 when she died, threatened officers with a hammer as they were trying to serve a court order to take her to a mental health facility. She was shot as she allegedly rushed officers in an apartment, and she died a short time later.

Valley civil rights activist the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who represented the family at a Tuesday news conference in Phoenix, claimed that Officer Percy Dupra wasn’t following police protocol when he shot the woman.

“(He failed) to call in their mental health crisis unit, or to attempt to assess the situation based on the interactions that the officers that proceeded him to the call had with Miss Cusseaux,” Maupin said.

Maupin claimed Phoenix police have not handled the case well.

“This is a terrible case — a really classic case of excessive force and police brutality — and I think they’re having trouble dealing with it,” said Maupin.

Cusseaux’s family said she struggled with depression and bipolar disease, but
had no violent history.

The lawsuit is also demanding police policy and training reforms, as well as citizen oversight of police actions.

Police didn’t immediately respond to the filing.

The Associate Press contributed to this report.