- By Native News Online Staff
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Navajo Nation is mourning the death of Navajo Police Officer Michael Lee, who passed away on Friday morning from COVID-19. The Navajo Police Department confirmed Lee is the tribe’s first law enforcement officer to pass away as the result of COVID-19.
The Navajo Indian Reservation has been hit hard by COVID-19. On Friday evening, the Navajo Nation reported 6,894 COVID-19 cases and 330 related deaths since March 17, 2020.
"On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Navajo Police Officer Michael Lee’s family, friends, and colleagues. Officer Lee fought on the front lines to combat coronavirus and we are grateful for his dedication to our community. His steadfast commitment to protect and serve will be remembered and honored," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.
He also said he and Vice President Myron Lizer would issue a proclamation to order all flags on the Navajo Nation to be flown at half-staff in memory of Officer Lee.
A 29-year veteran of the Navajo Police Department, Officer Lee served with the Chinle Police District at the time of his death.
Officer Lee began his law enforcement career for the Navajo Nation Police Department in Toyei, Ariz., in October 1990. Officer Lee was a patrol officer, a Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) officer, and a supporter of the department's information technology component. During his first seven years with the police department, he served within the Window Rock district and dedicated his remaining years to the Chinle district.
"It's a sad time for the entire Navajo Nation and, to Officer Lee’s family, we offer our prayers. Our police department lost a truly honorable and distinguished person. We also pray for the people of Chinle and surrounding communities, who welcomed Officer Lee throughout his time in service to that region. Take comfort in knowing that your loved one is now in our Creator's hands," Vice President Lizer said.
"It is with great sorrow that the Navajo Police Department announces the passing of Officer Michael Lee. We are devastated and heartbroken. Officer Lee was a husband, a father, a son, and a protector of his community. We ask the public to join us in remembering his commitment and contribution to his community and to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers today," Police Chief Phillip Francisco said on Friday.
Officer Lee is survived by his wife and children. Memorial service details will be forthcoming.
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