Casket marched through downtown Phoenix in protest

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by The Associated Press and azfamily.com

Video report by Mike Watkiss

Posted on August 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 26 at 6:56 AM

PHOENIX -- Supporters of a mentally ill woman who was fatally shot by Phoenix police carried the casket containing her body along downtown streets on Friday to protest the way authorities have handled the case.

The group believes police aren't treating Michelle Cusseaux's case any differently than other officer-involved shootings and are upset that Police Chief Daniel Garcia hasn't appointed an outside agency to investigate the shooting.

"We demand an independent, outside law enforcement agency investigate the death of Michelle Cusseaux and we want it now," said community activist Rev. Jarrett Maupin.

Cusseaux's family members and supporters said if that agency is not named by Monday, they will take their case to the United States Department of Justice.

"We will engage the justice department and Attorney General Eric Holder and the president directly," Maupin said.

Garcia said Wednesday criminal and administrative investigations were being conducted into the shooting, and he's asked the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to review the criminal findings and make final case decisions.

"Our role in this will be competely independent and will produce a result that we're convinced the public will have confidence in," said attorney's office spokesman Jerry Cobb.

The Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association released a statement asking the public to respect the investigative process and to avoid a rush to judgment.

In addition, Garcia said he has assigned a police commander to the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy to assist with training officers to work with people who have mental health issues. He also said the department will begin buying more on-officer cameras.

Cusseaux, 50, was shot Aug. 14 after she threatened officers with a claw hammer at her Maryvale apartment, authorities said.

Officers had been called to the complex to serve an emergency mental health pickup order on Cusseaux.

Her mother Frances Garrett said Cusseaux suffered from depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. Garrett said she called a mental health facility to try and get inpatient treatment for her daughter.

Cusseaux's family and supporters carried her casket from City Hall to the U.S. attorney's office while chanting, "Justice for Michelle."

"I'm very pleased to see the community support," Garrett said.

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Casket wheeled through downtown Phoenix in protest

PHOENIX (AP) -- Supporters of a mentally ill woman who was fatally shot by Phoenix police wheeled her casket along downtown streets on Friday to protest the way authorities have handled the case.

The group believes police aren't treating Michelle Cusseaux's case any differently than other officer-involved shootings and are upset that Police Chief Daniel Garcia hasn't appointed an outside agency to investigate the shooting.

Garcia said Wednesday criminal and administrative investigations were being conducted into the shooting, and he's asked the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to review the criminal findings and make final case decisions.

In addition, Garcia said he has assigned a police commander to the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy to assist with training officers to work with people who have mental health issues. He also said the department will begin buying more on-officer cameras.

Cusseaux, 50, was shot Aug. 14 after she threatened officers with a claw hammer at her Maryvale apartment, authorities said.

Officers had been called to the complex to serve an emergency mental health pickup order on Cusseaux.

Her mother Frances Garrett said Cusseaux suffered from depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. Garrett said she called a mental health facility to try and get inpatient treatment for her daughter.

Cusseaux's family and supporters guided her white casket on wheels from City Hall to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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