Mother of mentally ill woman shot by police demands investigation

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX---  The mother of a Phoenix woman shot and killed by a police officer Thursday is asking for an outside agency to be brought in to investigate her death.

Phoenix Police were called to an apartment in the Maryvale neighborhood, to bring 50-year-old Michelle Cusseaux to a mental health facility.

Cusseaux's family says she has no violent history, but mental health workers told police they were threatened, and officers say they arrived to find Cusseaux swinging a hammer.

A 19-year-veteran officer felt threatened, and fired a single, deadly shot.

"A number of witnesses saw her raising the hammer and it being swung at the officers," Sgt. Tommy Thompson said after the incident.

Cusseaux's mother, Francis Garrett, called authorities Thursday, fearing her daughter was going to harm herself.

"Michelle was a loving person, and a giving person, who had a mental health problem," Garrett said in a press conference outside police headquarters.

"Most of the time when police are called to a home of people dealing with mental illness, they don't die. So now we have to figure out what was different in this case," civil rights leader Rev. Jarrett Maupin added.

Police say mental health calls are among their most difficult. The shooting death is under criminal internal investigation, which is typical protocol.

Cusseaux's family wants an outside agency to be brought in to do the investigation.

"All I know is, I called to get help for my daughter, not to get her shot, just to get the help needed," her mother said.