Police Abuse

Phoenix Creating Mental Health Board for PD After Fatal Shooting of Hammer-Wielding Woman


In August Officer Percy Dupra shot and killed Michelle Cusseaux in Phoenix, Arizona, after the woman allegedly wielded a hammer while police were executing an order to bring her to a mental health facility. This week the city announced reforms in response to the shooting.

The Phoenix New Times reports:

"August 14, 2014, was a tragic day not only for the Cusseaux family, but for our department as well," [Police Chief Daniel] Garcia said at a press conference yesterday, where Cusseaux's mother was in the audience.

The main change going forward is the creation of a mental health advisory board that reports directly to the police department.

"This is not a task force, this is not a temporary board," Mayor Greg Stanton said. "This is a board that's going to be made up the top mental-health professionals in our community, providing constant guidance to the police department."

According to the police department, all cops received two hours of mental health training after the Cusseaux shooting. Police will also try to minimize their involvement in mental-health crises—cops were there to take Cusseaux to a mental hospital on a court order.

For those not convinced the advisory board, made up mostly of local mental health providers, will work the city has apparently used them for the police department before. From the Times:

Councilman Michael Nowakowski said he was placed on a police advisory board 20 years ago, and it's still active.

"I know that these advisory boards work," he said. "These advisory boards have direct communication to the chief and top administrators of the Phoenix Police Department. This is where change happens."

Garcia says more reforms are on the way but wouldn't say specifically how the shooting of Cusseaux informed the reforms, because that shooting is still being investigated.