Winslow, AZ — In March, police officer Austin Shipley responded to a call about a woman acting irregularly in a store. Within minutes of his arrival, he would kill 27-year-old Native American woman Loreal Tsingine.
Last week, conveniently before they released the body camera footage, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued a statement excusing Officer Shipley and said he would not pursue criminal charges against him because he was protecting himself and another officer who felt “threatened” by the 100 lb woman.
“After a careful review of the facts surrounding the case, including available video evidence and witness statements from all involved, my office found no evidence of criminal conduct on the part of Officer Shipley,” Montgomery’s statement said.
Late Wednesday night, officials finally released the body camera footage from that fateful day. It confirms witness testimonies.
Shipley claims that Tsingine brandished a pair of scissors which caused him to fear for his life and put five bullets into the 5-foot tall, 100 lb woman. However, witnesses saw a different version of events.
According to Tsingine’s cousin, David Villaescusa, he watched a video of the incident which he says did not show her threaten the officer with the scissors. “She had a pair of scissors that she used to cut her hair split ends,” Villaescusa said. “She stood only five feet tall and weighed less than 100 lbs. Shipley, on the other hand, is over six feet tall and weighs over 200 pounds. I don’t think he had to shoot her.”
“I watched the video,” explains Villaescusa. “She never raised those scissors towards the officer.”
According to bystanders, Shipley showed up after another officer had Tsingine completely under control and had both hands behind her back — yet he continued to yell “stop resisting” as if he wanted the situation to escalate. Moments later, a troubled woman in need of mental help was lying on the ground twitching in a pool of her own blood.
The cowardly and outright abusive behavior in the video below is hard to watch.
Officer Austin Shipley is no stranger to hurting women, and, in fact, according to his fellow officers — he should have never been a cop.
According to records obtained by the Associated Press, at least two officers who trained Shipley had serious concerns about his work, including that he was too quick to go for his service weapon, ignored directives from superiors and falsified reports.
It gets worse.
Before he was even hired as a police officer out of training in 2013, a police corporal recommended that the Winslow Police Department not hire him.
Before Shipley finished the academy, Cpl. Ron Chisholm wrote to Lt. Ken Arend and police Chief Steve Garnett and said, “I do not believe that this officer should be retained by the Winslow Police Department” and outlined a list of reasons. He cited integrity issues, failing to control suspects, not communicating with other officers, not accurately reporting facts and repeatedly questioning his training officers’ directives, according to the report.
But Chisholm wasn’t the only cop who saw trouble in hiring Shipley. Cpl. Jason Thermen also went on record to voice his concerns about Shipley in July of 2013. According to the AP, Thermen said Shipley wrongly believed his badge gave him license to harass the public and ridicule citizens of the small northeastern Arizona city.
Thermen also said Shipley was “pouting” because he didn’t allow the trainee to get into fights with a drunken person and with someone during a welfare check.
“Shipley advised me the next day he went home and ‘pouted’ because I took the fight away from him again,” Thermen wrote.
In their reports, Chisholm and Thermen both noted that Shipley was a danger to society, yet somehow, this man was still given a badge and a gun.
“If this behavior continues, it is going to get someone hurt,” Chisholm wrote, noting Shipley’s tendency to continue to go for his gun in situations where it was entirely uncalled for.
Even after he was hired, Shipley continued to build his rap sheet. Twice in only three years, Shipley was written up for abusing girls. The first time was for making inappropriate comments to a teenage girl. But the next time he’d be written up, it was for unnecessarily tasering a different girl.
As all of this information comes to light, the Native American community is being vindicated in their original claims of injustice. Their friend and daughter, who was undoubtedly troubled, did not deserve to die that night. However, her killer was irresponsibly given authority to initiate violence against citizens by a police department, and for their incompetence, a community now grieves and a killer cop remains on the streets.