WINSLOW, Ariz. - Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates are waiting for the result of an investigation into the shooting of a Navajo woman in Winslow before making a judgment on the incident.
According to a press release, on March 27, two Winslow police officers responded to a call at a Circle K convenience store located at 323 N. Williamson Ave. in Winslow where a Navajo woman, Loreal Tsingine, was suspected of shoplifting items from the store.
Officers looked for a subject described as a Native American female wearing gray sweatpants and a white top. Officers located Tsingine who fit the description in the area.
While police attempted to take the subject into custody, a struggle ensued. The subject brandished a weapon, which the responding officer perceived as a substantial threat. The officer discharged his weapon resulting in the death of 27-year-old Loreal Tsingine.
Raul Garcia, public information officer for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said detectives from the Major Crimes District for the Arizona Department of Public Safety are investigating the incident and the officer who shot Tsingine was placed on administrative leave.
Begaye said he supports the efforts of public safety departments across the Navajo Nation, including those that serve border town communities. He said police officers risk their lives daily to ensure the public's safety and that the officers deserve to be commended. But he did say he would like to see an independent investigation.
"We hear about these types of shootings happening across the country," Begaye said. "If there is no legitimate justification for taking Tsingine's life, then the Navajo Nation wants the fullest extent of the law to be taken in serving justice."
Bates said he is waiting for the outcome of the investigation to determine if excessive force was used by Winslow police officers.
"On behalf of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Loreal Tsingine and everyone else involved with this tragic accident," Bates said.
Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty said communities have a right to express their views regarding the shooting, but they should remain mindful and respectful to the Tsingine families.
"As a community leader, I encourage the public to respect the Navajo traditions of K'é and Hózhó," she said. "Please respect the Tsingine and Barnell families during their time of grief."
A community based organization known as "Red Nation" held a "Vigil for Justice" at the Winslow Police Department April 2.