Tsingine, a Native American, was killed by officer Austin Shipley in late March as fatal shootings of Native Americans by police have increased in 2016
The Justice Department will investigate the police shooting of a Native American woman in Arizona, a spokesman said on Friday, a day after footage released by the Winslow police department raised concerns about racial bias in the fatal shooting.
The department’s civil rights division will review the local investigation into the March 27 shooting death of Loreal Tsingine, spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said.
Tsingine, 27, was shot and killed by the Winslow police officer Austin Shipley in late March after officers suspected her of shoplifting in a local store and confronted her. Silent body-camera footage, first obtained by the Arizona Daily Sun, shows a police officer trying to restrain Tsingine then shoving her to the ground and finally drawing a gun on her as she approaches him.
In the video, Tsingine gets up and walks toward Shipley with a small pair of medical scissors in her left hand, and another officer quickly approaches her from behind. Shipley draws his gun and directs it at Tsingine, and the footage is cut off before he fires the fatal shot.
The shooting was ruled justified by the Maricopa County attorney’s office last Friday.
Tsingine’s aunt, Floranda Dempsey, said her niece was 5ft tall and weighed 95lbs. “They should have been able to subdue her with their huge size and weight,” she said. “It wasn’t like she came at them first. I’m sure anyone would be mad if they were thrown around.” She added a question: “Where were the tasers, pepper sprays, batons?”
The family filed a $10.5m wrongful death lawsuit against the city at the beginning of the month, claiming that “the city of Winslow was negligent in hiring, training, retaining, controlling and supervising” the officer who killed Tsingine.
Shipley’s training records show two of his fellow officers had serious concerns that he was too quick to go for his service weapon, that he ignored directives from superiors, and that he was liable to falsify reports and not control his emotions.
A day before Shipley’s training ended, nearly three years ago, a police corporal recommended that the Winslow police department not retain him.
“They were warned he was likely to hurt someone back in 2013 or so, by another commanding officer,” Floranda said. “It’s unbelievable as to why he was still allowed to wear a badge.”
Floranda said watching the video shocked her and made her angry, and that all she saw was “a bully who got angry for getting his ego squashed” by a small Native American woman.