U.S. Justice Department Will Investigate Police Killing of Loreal Tsingine

Loreal Tsingine with her daugther, Tiffany.

Loreal Tsingine with her daugther, Tiffany.

Published July 31, 2016

WINDOW ROCK – The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Friday it will review the invsstigation into the Easter Sunday police killing of Loreal Tsingine, a 27-year-old Navajo mother. in Winslow, Arizona by Winslow Police Officer Austin Shipley.

Justice Department spokesperson Wyn Hornbuckle said the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice handle the review. Mr. Hornbuckle declined further comment.

Indian Killer - Officer Austin Shipley cleared in shooting death of young Navajo mother.

Indian Killer – Officer Austin Shipley cleared in shooting death of young Navajo mother.

Tsingine was shot five times by Shipley as he attempted to arrest her for suspicion of shoplifting from the local Circle K store on Easter Sunday afternoon.

The shooting left Tsingine dead and Shipley was cleared recently by the Maricopa County attorney of a wrong death by a police officer.

The 23rd Navajo Nation Council applauded Friday’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice will review the local investigation.

“The Navajo Nation Council is elated that the United States Department of Justice has made the decision to review the investigation into the shooting death of Loreal Tsingine at the hands of Officer Shipley,” stated Speaker LoRenzo Bates.

“While Maricopa County may allow Officer Shipley to escape criminal prosecution, we are hopeful that a federal investigation will bring justice for the Tsingine family.”

The Arizona Department of Public Safety investigated the shooting, which was later reviewed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued a letter on July 19 to Winslow Police Department Chief of Police Stephen Garnett, stating that Officer Shipley would not face criminal charges in the case.

Speaker Bates said the Council wholeheartedly supports the decision of the USDOJ and pointed out that the Office of the Speaker, Office of the President and Vice President, and the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission have all sought the intervention by the USDOJ.

On May 26, members of the Navajo Nation Council unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Council Delegate Jonathan Hale, calling for U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate the Winslow Police Department in response to the shooting death of Tsinigine, who was originally from the small community of Teesto.

Council Delegate Lee Jack, Sr., who represents the community of Teesto, said community members are pleased with the announcement and called for a fair and timely investigation.

“The community and loved ones have had a very difficult time coping with the loss of Loreal and this announcement brings some hope and relief,” said Delegate Jack. “We want justice for the family, the community, and the Navajo people.”

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