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Body of Phoenix woman killed by police taken to protest

PHOENIX -- The body of a woman killed by police was taken to a protest in downtown Phoenix on Friday.

"We're not here alone," said the Rev. Jarrett Maupin at the protest. "We took the drastic step of bringing Michelle (Cusseaux)'s body to city hall to emphasize the importance of justice in this case."

Cusseaux was killed in an altercation with police on Aug. 14. Officers were called to a Phoenix apartment complex to serve an emergency mental health pickup order on Cusseaux. They say she lunged toward officers with a hammer and that is when Sgt. Percy Dupra shot her. Cusseaux later died at a hospital.

Friday's protest was part of a larger push for an independent investigation into her death. The group issued a Thursday deadline for the investigation to begin and Maupin claimed the city failed to meet their request.

"The city had tried to tell us and the community that the county attorney conducts an independent investigation into all police-involved shootings, and that it is truly an independent investigation, but that was a lie.

"We contacted the (Maricopa County) Attorney's Office and Mr. [Bill] Montgomery indicated his office isn't doing anything special in this matter. They are not conducting a from-scratch, from-start independent instigation into the death of this woman."

All police-related shootings are investigated, but generally by the department. Maupin said that is unacceptable in Cusseaux's case.

"When the police have perpetrated and are responsible for the shooting death of someone, they cannot be trusted to investigate themselves," he said.

City Hall was not the only stop the protesters, and Cusseaux's body, would make Friday.

"We are going to march Michelle's body to the office of the U.S. Attorney," said Maupin, adding the protesters plan to ask Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama to look into the case if the county does not open an investigation by Monday at 5 p.m.

Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia has apologized for the shooting and has called for an independent investigation.

KTAR's Cooper Rummell contributed to this report.

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