In Arizona. a 50 year old mentally ill woman was killed. This just happened Saturday.
Relatives of a woman who was fatally shot by a Phoenix police officer on Thursday are asking why such lethal use of force was necessary.
Michelle Cusseaux, 50, was shot at her apartment at Clarendon and 55th avenues after she threatened a police officer and three other officers with a hammer, authorities said. The officers said they were serving a court order to transport the woman to an in-patient mental-health facility at the request of her mother when the woman met them at the door with a hammer.
The officer who shot her has been with the department 19 years. He has been placed on paid leave, as is protocol in police shootings, while detectives investigate the incident.
MORE: Family of woman shot by police speaks out
PITTS: When police decide to use lethal force
Frances Garrett, Cusseaux's 71-year-old mother, who lives in California, said her daughter had a serious mental illness. Serious mental illness is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder that limits a person's ability to function normally. Garrett said her daughter had bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other illnesses.
Garrett asked an employee from Southwest Behavioral Health Services, which gets funding from the state's Behavioral Health Services Division, to place her daughter in an in-patient care facility after the employee said she was exhibiting threatening behavior.
About 40 minutes later, Garrett said, her daughter's neighbor called her and said the encounter between police and Cusseaux was escalating.
Garrett said the neighbors described the events to her as they unfolded and "they heard them say, 'Drop the hammer, drop your hammer,' and then they heard the gunshot."
"I can't believe this," she said at a protest Saturday at City Hall that was organized by local activists, the Rev. Jarrett Maupin and Lauryn Mangum.
"I'm asking for help for my daughter, who has a mental issue, and ... the help ended her life. That's hard to believe."
Michelle Cusseaux’s mother says she tried to get her daughter mental health help, but it ended with police shooting her.
Garrett said she doesn't feel that the police came prepared to deal with a mentally ill person.
"They knew where they were going," she said. "They knew (who) they were going to work with — a person with a mental illness. You don't come with guns drawn, guns at her door. I'm sure it frightened her."
Department officials did not return requests for an interview on Saturday.
Kevina Devereaux, Cusseaux's niece, said her aunt was only ever a threat to herself.
"They had different accounts (of what happened)," she said. "She raised the hammer outside the door. But (they) actually came inside her house and shot her."
"What are the policies and procedures of dealing with a mentally ill person? If you don't have those, then you (shouldn't) deal with them, because any type of situation can happen when dealing with someone who's not all the way there."
She said she wants department officials to explain why the officer drew and fired at her aunt.
"You're supposed to help her," she said. "How did she get killed in this process? That's all we want are answers and somebody to be held accountable."