Family of woman killed by police to file $7 million claim against city

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- The family of a mentally ill woman shot and killed by a police officer will be filing a $7 million claim against the City of Phoenix.

The claim is the precursor to a lawsuit.

50-year-old Michelle Cusseaux was shot last year after her family called for a welfare check.

Cusseaux's family said she had struggled with depression and bipolar disease.

Family members had said that Cusseaux had 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," Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said after the incident.

Following her death, family members and civil rights activists held marches and other protest actions demanding an independent investigation into the shooting, police policy reforms, and a new task force to deal with police interactions with members of the city's mentally-ill population

Shortly after their investigation started, City of Phoenix Police leadership transferred investigatory actions to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Now, Cusseaux's family is filing suit against the city. "We are demanding justice for Michelle. Justice for her mother and family. Justice for her community. We want to do everything possible to prevent another member of a vulnerable or disabled community losing their life to excessive force and brutality at the hands of our police department," says Rev. Jarrett Maupin, "All lives matter."

Rev. Maupin, advocates for Arizona's mentally-ill, and other community activists will release the details of the claim at a 2 p.m. press conference outside of Phoenix City Hall Tuesday,