A woman who was fatally shot by an Arizona police officer earlier this year was holding medical scissors in her hand as she approached him, the officer’s body camera video released Wednesday shows.
The video made public by the city of Winslow came days after the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said Officer Austin Shipley was justified in shooting Loreal Tsingine, 27, because he felt his life and that of another officer were threatened.
The shooting of the Navajo woman led tribal officials to urge the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the treatment of American Indians in towns that border the Navajo Nation. Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle had no immediate comment Wednesday on whether an investigation would be launched.
Shipley was responding March 27 to a shoplifting report when he shot Tsingine on a sidewalk near the convenience store that reported a shoplifting suspect.
The video from his body camera showed that the encounter with Tsingine lasted less than 30 seconds.
Shipley is seen on the video trying to restrain Tsingine, and she falls to the ground.
Tsingine gets up, and the video shows her walking quickly back toward Shipley with the pair of scissors in her left hand, pointed down.
She apparently yells at Shipley as he raises his gun and opens fire.
It’s unclear from the video what Tsingine and Shipley said to each other during the confrontation because the video of the events just before the shooting and the shooting itself had no audio, said City attorney Ellen Van Riper.
In a summary of the encounter, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said its investigation concluded that Tsingine refused commands from Shipley for her to stop resisting, get on the ground and drop the scissors.
Witnesses confirmed that Shipley issued the commands, the department said. The full investigative report is expected to be released next week by Winslow officials.
A small group of protesters in Phoenix on Monday demonstrated against the decision that Shipley’s shooting of Tsingine was justified, and another demonstration in Winslow is scheduled for Friday. The protests come amid a wave of demonstrations and racial tensions throughout the U.S. over fatal police shootings of black men as well as deadly attacks on law enforcement officers.
Documents previously released by Winslow officials show that two officers who trained Shipley had serious concerns about his work and that one of them recommended he should not serve the city as an officer.
Tsingine had a lengthy arrest record, including an incident last year when she allegedly tried to grab an officer’s gun as he tried to arrest her.
Her relatives have filed a $10.5 million notice of claim against the city, saying Shipley violated Tsingine’s civil rights and that Winslow was negligent in “hiring, training, retaining, controlling and supervising” Shipley.
The wrongful-death claim filed this month is a precursor to a lawsuit and seeks $2 million for Tsingine’s husband and $8.5 million for her 8-year-old daughter.
Shipley is on paid administrative leave while the Mesa Police Department conducts an internal affairs investigation.
This story corrects that the video showed Tsingine was holding the scissors in her left hand, not her right hand.