Navajo police say Nazlini incident didn’t involve Russian roulette
By Krista Allen
Special to the Times
Navajo police officers responded to a call reporting shots fired in Nazlini on Saturday.
When officers arrived at the scene, they found a female victim at a residence, according to a press release provided by the Navajo Police Department.
The release states that a neighbor reported to an officer they heard arguing next door. The neighbor said the victim then came to her house seeking assistance.
“The female victim had blood coming from a laceration on her forehead, which she indicated was caused by (a male) suspect (after) he slammed her head against an object,” the release reads. “The male suspect was a family member (who) had been drinking at their home.”
Navajo police officers entered the house the victim came from and found the male suspect on a couch.
“He was arrested without incident,” the release states.
But police officers familiar with the incident said what Chief of Police Phillip Francisco’s office made public in Friday’s press release was altered and that a Navajo ranger was shot in the head while playing Russian roulette with a duty weapon.
The officers, who asked not to be named, told the Navajo Times Thursday that Dorasita Begay, 35, ranger in the Division of Natural Resources’ Central District, was shot in the head by her brother, Kirby Begaye, ranger for Navajo Parks and Recreation, inside a Nazlini residence.
According to residents, the incident happened at the Nazlini housing, where they saw police escort a suspect in handcuffs out of a house Saturday morning.
The officers responded to a call reporting four shots fired inside a house. When police showed up to the residence, they found Begay with a gunshot wound. SWAT teams from Chinle, Kayenta, and Tuba City were called because Begaye had barricaded himself in the home.
The police say when SWAT teams arrived, they entered the home and found Begaye had passed out. They also found numerous empty alcohol containers.
The police say Begay was taken to a nearby hospital where she later tried to flee but was apprehended.
Both Begay and Begaye were taken into custody, according to the police, who say during questioning, the pair admitted they were drinking and decided to play Russian roulette, a lethal game of chance, with a duty weapon.
The police say Begaye is not certified as a law enforcement officer and that Begay is a former Navajo Police officer who had been caught with DUI before but was never discharged work.
Begay was arrested for extreme DUI with a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or higher in October 2007, according to Arizona court records.
Chief of Police Phillip Francisco’s office on Thursday denied a request for comment and further details.
The press release states that the victim had a laceration on their head, however it was not a gunshot wound and there is no indication that a game of Russian roulette was played at the time of the incident.
This case is currently being investigated by the Division of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation, according to Navajo Police.
“The Navajo Police Department does not prematurely share information regarding cases that are considered open investigation without knowing the overall facts of a case,” Francisco said in a statement today. “We refrain from releasing detailed information to protect the integrity of a case and to protect the victims involved in a crime.”
The press release also states that Francisco’s office, or the Division of Public Safety, officially authorizes and releases crime and incident reports before they are distributed to the media.
Calls to Sgt. Stanley Milford Jr., acting chief ranger, and to Ranger Sgt. Angie Nez, both Begay and Begaye’s supervisor in the Central District, went unanswered. Office receptionists said Milford will not be back in his office until Tuesday and no other official is present in the office.