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Michelle Cusseaux, 50
Phoenix, Arizona
August 14, 1999

Agencies: Phoenix Police Department Arizona

Last updated: about 1 month ago

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Michelle Cusseaux, 50, was shot at her apartment 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.

At the time of her death, Cusseaux suffered from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. On August 14, 2014, Cusseaux grew agitated when a cab didn’t show up to take her to the hospital; just a week earlier, she’d filed a grievance on previous transportation failures. Cusseaux called a Southwest Network health facility, and Office Manager Jamey Helms found her comments to be threatening. Helms called the police to make what is formally known as a mental health petition.

Critics, while acknowledging that police face danger in many forms during the course of a day's work, and a hammer can be a deadly weapon. point out that the four officers involved knew they were dealing with a seriously mentally ill woman and should have been ready with non-lethal means of controlling her.

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