Fed Court says Navajo Tribe Not Allowed to File Suit on Behalf of Loreal Tsingine; 5 Foot Tall, 90 lbs Woman Posed No Real Danger to Race Soldier who Shot Her to Death after Shoplifting Incident


DISPROPORTIONATE USE OF FORCE. From [HERE] A federal court has dismissed the Navajo Nation’s lawsuit against the U.S. government and Winslow, Arizona over the police shooting of a tribal member.

The Gallup Independent reports Judge G. Murray Snow ruled last week that the tribe lacked standing and “did not suffer a legally cognizable injury” from the March 2016 death of Loreal Tsingine.

The tribe filed suit last year, claiming Tsingine’s civil and constitutional rights were violated. It also faulted the U.S. Justice Department for not prosecuting former Winslow Police Officer Austin Shipley [racist suspect in photo].

The department said it could not prove that Shipley willfully used excessive force and did not act in self-defense.

Navajo Nation spokesman Jared Touchin says the tribe is reviewing the ruling and has not yet decided if it will appeal.

The Navajo Nation sued the federal government and the city of Winslow in March on behalf of Loreal Tsingine's (SIN'-uh-jin-ee) daughter.

Tsingine was shot and killed on Easter Sunday by Shipley, a Winslow police officer responding to a report of shoplifting at a nearby Circle K. Shipley fired five shots from his firearm after Winslow police say Tsingine brandished a pair of scissors threateningly at him. The shooting spurred an outcry from members of the Navajo Nation, whose reservation borders Winslow, that Native Americans suffer systemic discrimination and excessive use of force at the hands of city police.

Authorities say Tsingine posed a threat to now former Winslow police Officer Austin Shipley when he killed her in March 2016.

The tribe contends Austin Shipley, who subsequently resigned his position as an officer, could have used non-lethal force when he responded to a report that Tsingine shoplifted from a convenience store in March 2016.

"Our people have the right to be free from unreasonable violence when they visit our neighboring communities, particularly from off-reservation law enforcement," Navajo President Russell Begaye said in a statement. "Navajo lives matter, and that needs to be acknowledged and protected by our bordering jurisdictions."

The Navajo Nation said Shipley could have used less than lethal force as Tsingine stood 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds. Shipley is over 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds.   Even if she had attempted to stab Shipley, his body armor would have protected him, the tribe alleged.

Tsingine also had a history of mental health-related issues, and the tribe contends police officers weren't properly trained. The tribe alleged violations of her equal protection rights in its claim against the Justice Department. [MORE]

Racist suspects at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office cleared Shipley of wrongdoing in the shooting. The U.S. Department of Justice reviewed the case but said it could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Shipley willfully used excessive force and did not act in self-defense.

Authorities said Tsingine resisted arrest, refused commands and advanced on Shipley with the scissors before he shot her, striking her four times in the torso. The 27-year-old was pronounced dead on the sidewalk, down the street from the convenience store.

Kevin Washburn, a law professor at the University of New Mexico, said wrongful death lawsuits typically aren't filed by tribes but it's an exercise of sovereignty.

Tsingine's family previously filed a $10.5 million notice of claim against the city, a precursor to a lawsuit. 

The claim alleges that Officer Austin Shipley [racist suspect in photo] violated Tsignine’s civil rights and contends the city “uniformly ignored warning signs that Austin Shipley was a threat to the public.”

"The city is responsible for Shipley's homicide because it was negligent in hiring, training, retaining, controlling and supervising Austin Shipley," the claim said.

"Shipley's record demonstrates that he does not exert self-restraint, does not obey law, and ignores orders. Personal feelings and animosity influence his actions and decisions. He is incapable of exerting his authority with courtesy required of servant of the people." [MORE]

According to records obtained by the Associated Press, at least two officers who trained Shipley had serious concerns about his work, including that he was too quick to go for his service weapon, ignored directives from superiors and falsified reports.

“Shipley has a well-documented history of incompetence, insubordination, dishonesty, aggression and unreasonable use of force,” the claim said. 

The document uses Winslow Police Department evaluation forms to detail more than 30 violations Shipley racked up during his four months' training in the field to be an officer. The list of issues includes tampering with evidence, falsifying reports, repeating the same mistakes, and tunnel vision, along with concerns that he was too quick to go to his gun.

In field training reports released by the city of Winslow, a police corporal wrote, "at this time I do not believe that this Officer should be retained by the Winslow Police Department due to the below listed reasons." Those reasons included: "integrity issues", "inability to follow the chain of command", "lack of conducting a proper investigation", "fails to control suspects when making an arrest" and "continues to falsify reports." [MORE]

Documents do not show how the department responded the Chisholm’s recommendation.

In his 2½-year career as an officer, Shipley held a suspect at gunpoint at least five times, drew his Taser four times, and used physical force in at least three situations, according to his personnel file.

Twice Shipley was suspended for a day without pay: once in 2013 after he was found to have violated the department’s code of conduct for using vulgar language with a 15-year-old girl, and a second time in 2016 for violating the department’s Taser policy for shocking a 15-year-old girl as she walked away from him.

According to his letter of disposition, at the time of shooting of Tsingine, Shipley was on six months of disciplinary probation and was required to enroll in department-mandated training on the use of force and Taser deployment.