7 million dollar claim filed in shooting death of woman

7 million dollars, that is how much the family of a 50-year-old mentally ill woman wants. The woman was shot and killed by Phoenix Police in August when she reportedly came at them with a hammer, now they wanted the City of Phoenix to pay.

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city on Friday. They claim the Sergeant who shot and killed the woman used excessive force and was not adequately trained to deal with the mentally ill. Phoenix Police say the woman was armed with a hammer and came towards the Sergeant when she was shot and killed.

Holding signs that read 'Justice of Michelle,' friends of Michelle Cusseaux gathered outside Phoenix City Hall to announce the family had filed the lawsuit against the city.

"It is the opinion of the family, many in the community, and the attorneys, that the officer did not follow proper protocol and used excessive force and violated Michelle Cusseaux's civil rights and robbed her of her life," said Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an activist.

According to the police report, officers were ordered to take Cusseaux to a mental health facility after she threatened to shoot a behavioral health services team that called to check on her earlier in the day.

When she wouldn't open the door, investigators allegedly picked the lock, then found her in the doorway with a hammer above her head. 

Police say they told her to drop the hammer, but instead they say Cusseaux stepped towards them, she was shot by police and later died.

The family says officers could have called a mental health crisis team and they say less than lethal force would have been adequate.

"The officer used excessive force, the officer did not follow the city's own policy for interacting with someone who is mentally ill, and caused an adverse reaction because he was not following the advise of his own department," said Maupin.

Rev. Maupin is encouraging the city to settle the lawsuit. The officer involved in the shooting is now assigned to an administrative position.

Phoenix Police are not commenting because of the ongoing investigation and litigation.

Following Cusseaux's death, Chief Daniel Garcia established a mental health advisory board.
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