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Navajo Police loses first police officer to COVID-19

Courtesy of Navajo Police Department
Navajo Nation Police Officer Michael Lee, a 29-year Navajo Police veteran, has died in the line of duty on Friday morning. Lee died from COVID-19 in Phoenix.


A 29-year Navajo Police veteran died in the line of duty on Friday morning.

Navajo Nation Police Officer Michael Lee, who worked with the Chinle District, died from the virus at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, according to a Friday news release.

Chief Phillip Francisco said the department was “devastated and heartbroken” by the news of his death.

“It is with great sorrow that the Navajo Police Department announces the passing of Officer Michael Lee,” Francisco said. “Officer Lee was a husband, a father, a son and a protector of his community.”

Lee graduated from the Navajo Law Enforcement Academy in Toyei, Arizona, in October 1990. During his 29 years of service, Lee worked as a Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, officer, and worked in Window Rock for seven years at the beginning of his law enforcement career.

He served the Chinle community until his death, the news release said.

“We ask the public to join us in remembering his commitment and contribution to his community and to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers today,” Francisco said.

A procession for Lee began 2 p.m. from the Banner University Medical Center. The route for the procession will go through Payson on Arizona State Road 87, then State Road 260, through Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, then on to State Road 377 into Holbrook, Arizona, and eastbound on Interstate 40 to Rollie Mortuary in Gallup.

Gallup Police Department spokesperson Erin Toadlena-Pablo said Gallup Police was participating in the procession, which, she said, is expected to arrive to the mortuary this evening.

The procession is escorted by the Navajo Police Department, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the New Mexico State Police, and other local law enforcement agencies.

About The Author

Donovan Quintero

"Dii, Diné bi Naaltsoos wolyéhíígíí, ninaaltsoos át'é. Nihi cheii dóó nihi másání ádaaní: Nihi Diné Bizaad bił ninhi't'eelyá áádóó t'áá háadida nihizaad nihił ch'aawóle'lágo. Nihi bee haz'áanii at'é, nihisin at'é, nihi hózhǫ́ǫ́jí at'é, nihi 'ach'ą́ą́h naagééh at'é. Dilkǫǫho saad bee yájíłti', k'ídahoneezláo saad bee yájíłti', ą́ą́ chánahgo saad bee yájíłti', diits'a'go saad bee yájíłti', nabik'íyájíłti' baa yájíłti', bich'į' yájíłti', hach'į' yándaałti', diné k'ehgo bik'izhdiitįįh. This is the belief I do my best to follow when I am writing Diné-related stories and photographing our events, games and news. Ahxéhee', shik'éí dóó shidine'é." - Donovan Quintero is an award-winning Diné journalist, who is based in Window Rock, Arizona. He can be contacted at


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