Navajo police officer dies of COVID-19, department says

Officer Michael Lee (Navajo Police Department)

The Navajo Police Department says a 29-year veteran of the department has died from the coronavirus.

The department says Officer Michael Lee of the Chinle Police District died early Friday morning.

“It is with great sorrow that the Navajo Police Department announces the passing of Officer Michael Lee. We are devastated and heartbroken.” Chief Phillip Francisco said. “Officer Lee was a husband, a father, a son and a protector of his community. We ask the public to join us in remembering his commitment and contribution to his community and to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers today.”

The department says Lee is the first Navajo officer to die of COVID-19 in the line of duty.

Officer Lee began his career with the Navajo Police Academy in 1990.

"On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Navajo Police Officer Michael Lee’s family, friends, and colleagues. Officer Lee fought on the front lines to combat coronavirus and we are grateful for his dedication to our community. His steadfast commitment to protect and serve will be remembered and honored," said President Jonathan Nez.

Officer Lee is survived by his wife and children. A procession will bring Officer Lee from Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix to Gallup, New Mexico.

The funeral service is scheduled for June 25 at 10 a.m.