Crowd turns out for funeral of slain Navajo police officer

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Officer Alex Yazzie Officer Alex Yazzie

People lined the streets Friday as the funeral procession honoring a Navajo Nation police officer made its way through Farmington.

Law enforcement officers from across the country and residents from throughout the Four Corners region gathered for the funeral of 42-year-old Alex Yazzie.

Yazzie, of Crownpoint, was fatally shot during a March 19 shootout between tribal police and Justin Fowler near the Arizona-New Mexico state line.

Fowler led police on a high-speed pursuit from a home in Shiprock, New Mexico, where he allegedly had been beating his wife and mother.

Authorities say Fowler also wounded two officers before being killed by police in Red Valley, Arizona.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset Friday in honor of Yazzie.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly called on federal and state lawmakers to provide more funding to the tribe's public safety services and a full review by Navajo officials of tribal laws pertaining to public safety.

"The laws we have are outdated, we need to change it," Shelly said.

Among the achievements listed in the eulogy was Yazzie's selection in February 2002 as the first criminal enforcement officer for the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.

In April 2012, he transferred to the Navajo police department and was assigned to the Shiprock District.

Rolanda Cowboy, one of Yazzie's nieces, remembered her uncle as possessing a unique laugh and love for his children.

Pastor Alvin Cayatineto of the Souls of Life Fellowship Church in Standing Rock used part of his message to comment on the number of public safety personnel in attendance at Yazzie's funeral, some coming from as far as away as Chicago or from the Jicarilla Apache, Oglala Sioux and Southern Ute tribes.

"This shows a respect that they have for their brother. Being here shows the commitment to each other and to your colleague," Cayatineto said.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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