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One Year Later: A Community Continues to Grieve for Loreal

One Year Later: A Community Continues to Grieve for Loreal
March 30
11:49 2017

It has been over a year since Loreal Tsingine was shot five times by a Winslow police officer, ending the 27-year-olds life, but time hasn’t lessened the frustration felt by the community.

On March 27, 2016 Winslow police officer Austin Shipley approached Tsingine in response to a robbery report at a nearby Circle K. A clerk had phone police with a report of a stolen case of beer and Shipley, who was responding to the call, confronted Tsingine in the street. According to the Winslow Police Department, Shipley attempted to take Tsingine into custody and she started to resist.

After getting away from Shipley, Tsingine pulled a pair of scissors from her bag and moved towards Shipley. Saying he felt a substantial threat, Shipley un-holstered his service weapon and pulled the trigger five times. Tsingine died in the street.

After an outside investigation, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in July 2016 that his office found “no evidence of criminal conduct” in the shooting.

Far from a onetime incident, subsequent investigations showed Shipley had a history of unsettling incidents.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety conducted an investigation and forwarded its findings to Montgomery’s office for an independent prosecutorial review requested by the Navajo County

Attorney’s office. According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, Shipley was reprimanded for two incidents involving 15-year-old girls. In one he used his Taser on a girl who was walking away from him and in another he used vulgar language to a minor.

Questions about his performance arose even during Shipley’s training.

At least two field training officers were concerned about Shipley’s performance in 2013. Concerns included falsifying reports, ignoring directives from superiors and Shipley’s eagerness to pull out his gun when dealing with the public.

A day before Shipley completed his training a police corporal recommended that he not be kept on the force.

Even though no charges were filed, Shipley resigned from the police department in October. According to reports, the resignation came only after Shipley was confronted with the results of an internal-affairs investigation into the shooting conducted by the Mesa Police Department.

Outrage over the lack of charges for Shipley intensified in August of 2016 when the video footage of the shooting recorded off of Shipley’s body-camera was released.

In the video, Shipley throws Tsingine to the ground after she resisted the attempt to detain her. Her belongings scatter along the road as she gets up and starts walking back towards Shipley. In the video, the scissors are not clearly visible, although it does appear that she is holding something in here hand down by her waist. Tsingine was walking, not running or charging, towards Tsingine with her arms down by her sides, not raised in an attacking manner, when Shipley pulls his firearm.

The video stops before shots are fired.

One year later, the community hasn’t ceased their cries for justice. Earlier this week a vigil was held in Winslow to mark the somber anniversary. 20 people marched outside of Winslow City Hall chanting, “Justice for Loreal,” as family members gave tearful speeches to the crowd.

Those fighting for proper justice for Loreal know this isn’t a random occurrence. Along with calls for an independent investigation into her death, activists are also looking to opening the broader discussion on racial profiling in towns that border the Navajo Nation.

It remains to be seen whether that conversation will truly begin in earnest, however last summer, the U.S. Department of Justice said that its Civil Rights Division would investigate the shooting.

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