FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye April 6 called for a federal investigation into the death of a Navajo women who was shot five times by a Winslow Police officer Easter Sunday, in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Because the shooting took place outside of the Navajo Nation, Begaye said the Nation is not in a position to investigate the action.
Begaye said Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch will work with the United States Department of Justice to see that a federal investigation is completed. The Navajo Nation Council also urged the justice department to investigate the fatal shooting.
"Although a local investigation is currently being conducted by the Arizona Department of Public Safety regarding the fatal shooting of Loreal to determine whether excessive force was warranted resulting in the officer shooting her five times, we firmly believe intervention by the Civil Rights Division is necessary," the Council's letter to Lynch said.
Begaye said there have been many reports of excessive force and unlawful police stops made by Winslow Police officers to Navajo tribal members.
"We believe these reports strongly indicate that a practice of discrimination exists in the Winslow community against tribal members and discrimination of this kind is prohibited by federal law and U.S. Department of Justice should investigate and enforce federal law against this discrimination," Begaye's letter to Lynch said.
At the vigil, Begaye demanded that law enforcement treat every person with respect, that every life and person is valuable and every person should be treated accordingly.
"The life of any person on the streets of Winslow is just as valuable as the life of the president," he said. "I'm asking the police officers out there to respect the Navajo people. No matter what they do, you can talk sense with them, you can communicate with them. You don't have to pull a gun on them. We understand when a police officer talks to us with respect and honor rather than throwing us on the ground and abusing us. That is not respect."