Monday, April 11, 2016

Arizona-Native American leaders call for U.S. Attorney General’s office to investigate shooting death of Navajo woman

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), and Troy Eid, former chairman of the Indian Law and Order Commission, recently called on United States Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch to investigate the death of a Navajo woman, who was allegedly shot while being taken into police custody in March.

“This is an active investigation,” Hale said. “I want to thank the Native American leaders who have united in calling for further investigation into this tragedy.”

According to reports, 27-year-old Loreal Tsingine was allegedly shot five times by a police officer as she was being taken into custody.  In a letter to Lynch, Hale and Eid wrote:

“As members of the Navajo Nation Bar Association who have worked extensively in and around Winslow and surrounding areas, we can attest to persistent reports by local citizens – ranging from young people to the elderly – of unlawful police stops, use of excessive force, and other coercive activities by the Winslow Police Department which may constitute a pattern or practice of discrimination prohibited by federal law.  Because there is no private right of action to vindicate these citizens’ federal civil rights through individual lawsuits, only the U.S. Department of Justice may enforce this law and put an end to alleged systemic police misconduct.”

“Only the U.S. Department of Justice has the statutory authority to enforce federal civil rights protections for Navajo and other Native American citizens when local police departments may be engaging in systematic discrimination,” said Eid, the former United States Attorney in Colorado appointed by President George W. Bush.  “A Justice Department investigation can help strengthen law enforcement by addressing persistent reports of official police bias against Native Americans in Winslow that are undermining the public confidence of all Arizonans.”

A copy of the letter is below. 
Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.