Police in Phoenix, Arizona were forced to shoot and kill a 50-year-old woman who threatened them with a hammer when they attempted to serve a mental health order on her, The Republic reports.
Police spokesman Sergeant Tommy Thompson said that officers had a court order to transfer Michelle Cusseaux to a mental health clinic, and approached her door at approximately 2:15 p.m. yesterday. According to CBS5, officers on the scene had been told that Cusseaux had threatened to shoot staff members at another mental health facility, and that she in all likelihood had a gun in the apartment.
Officers were assisting Cusseaux’s social welfare caseworkers, who “were trying to get her to come in for treatment.” When an officer knocked on the door, Cusseaux opened it holding a claw hammer above her head in a threatening manner.
A maintenance man who witnessed the incident told 12 News that, “all of a sudden, I heard them screaming, ‘Drop the hammer, drop the hammer, drop the hammer. This person lunged out at them with the hammer, swinging it crazy, and the officer unfortunately had to shoot.”
“When she lunged out at them, she was trying to hit somebody in the head,” the maintenance man added. “The way she was swinging that hammer, if she would have connected, one of the officers would have been seriously hurt. So in my opinion, they had no choice.”
As the unidentified officer was within arm’s reach, he fired one shot from his gun, which hit her square in the chest. Paramedics attempted to stabilize her on the way to the hospital, but she was pronounced dead on arrival.
“When our officers go to serve mental health pickup orders, they’re some of the most dangerous calls to even go on because those people often have mental challenges,” said Sgt. Thompson. “And that’s what we’re dealing with at this time.”
Watch a report on the incident via 12 News below.
[“Anti terrorist unit policeman during the night” on Shutterstock]