Arizona Police Shooting of Navajo Woman Suspected of Stealing from Convenience Store Sparks Outrage

Loreal Tsingine (Photo: Family's GoFundMe page)
Loreal Tsingine (Photo: Family’s GoFundMe page)

A Winslow police officer’s fatal shooting of a woman suspected of shoplifting a case of beer has sparked outrage in Arizona and elsewhere.

Members of the Navajo Nation, whose reservation borders Winslow, say 27-year-old Loreal Tsingine suffered discrimination and excessive force and are demanding that the officer’s name be released.

Winslow police say Tsingine had brandished a pair of scissors threateningly at the officer before she was shot five times on Sunday.

The altercation took place a couple of blocks away from a convenience store where a clerk had reported a theft, said Lt. Jim Sepi, a spokesman for the Winslow Police Department.

The officer  approached Tsingine, who fit the clerk’s suspect description, according to police: a Native American woman wearing gray sweatpants and a white top.

When the officer attempted to take Tsingine into custody, police say she fought back, presenting the scissors. The officer felt a substantial threat, Sepi said, and shot Tsingine five times.

Winslow Police Chief Stephen Garnett has asked the Arizona Department of Public Safety to conduct an investigation into the shooting.

DPS declined to comment on Tsingine’s actions, words or demeanor, until the case is investigated further.

A community saddened, concerned

Navajos and others have taken to social media to express their grief and anger in the shooting, many using the hashtag #JusticeforLoreal.

Andrew Curley, a member of Red Nation, a coalition of Native American and non-Native American activists, said an organic movement has formed to challenge what he called the police violence against Tsingine.

“Loreal is a victim of discrimination, and we want justice,” Curley said. “We can all relate to this case because we have all been racially profiled by law enforcement. While we are saddened at (Loreal’s) death, we’re not surprised because we know that this is a systemic issue.”

Curley said the group supported the independent investigation into the shooting and has asked the Navajo Nation to take a more active role in this case.

In a statement, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said:  “We hear about these types of shootings happening across the country. If there is no legitimate justification for taking Tsingine’s life, then the Navajo Nation wants the fullest extent of the law to be taken in serving justice.”

Vice President Jonathan Nez posted the following statement on Facebook: “The Navajo Nation sends our condolences to her family during this tragedy. Significant numbers of Navajo citizens have expressed public outcry over this violence. We will continue to investigate.”

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SOURCE: Yihyun Jeong
The Republic | azcentral.com