Arizona police just released body cam footage showing the final moments of a Navajo woman’s life, right before she was killed by an officer in March.
The 30-second clip shows 27-year-old Loreal Tsingine approaching Officer Austin Shipley with scissors in hand before he shot her five times.
The city of Winslow made the video public on Wednesday, just days after the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office deemed Shipley’s actions justified.
Shipley was responding to a possible shoplifting when he encountered Tsingine, according to local reports. The state’s Department of Public Safety determined that Tsingine disobeyed the officer’s command to drop the scissors and get on the ground.
According to the New York Daily News, another officer asked Shipley if he was okay immediately after the shooting to which he replied, “I did what I had to do.”
Tsingine’s family has filed a $10.5 million wrongful-death claim against the city of Winslow as they believe Shipley violated her civil rights and the city was negligent in “hiring, training, retaining, controlling, and supervising” him.
The family’s attorney, Robert Pastor said on their behalf: "Our position remains that even though (Shipley) may not be held criminally liable, it was careless for the city of Winslow to give him a gun and a badge.”
Protesters have organized demonstrations in Phoenix and Winslow opposing the decision not to file criminal charges against Shipley.
"We demand U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct a federal investigation into the wrong and shameful acts of Officer Shipley," council speaker LoRenzo Bates reportedly said after charges were not filed. "The Navajo Nation will not rest until the federal government investigates."
As police brutality against minorities has been in the public spotlight for several years now, the question that is often asked but not always answered is whether there was another way?
While the video footage may indicate that Tsingine was threatening the officer, five fatal bullets seem like the result of an impulsive act of fear rather than a justifiable use of force.
Was it not possible to Taser her or even shoot her once in the arm or leg, and then seize the scissors from her?
It’s difficult to believe in many of these disheartening situations that shooting to kill was the only viable option.
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