Funeral service announced for Navajo Police Officer Michael Lee

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The funeral service has been set for Navajo Police Officer Michael Lee, a 29-year veteran of the department who died from COVID-19 last week.

The service will be at 10 a.m. June 25 at The Potter's House Christian Center in Chinle, Arizona, according to a press release from the Navajo Police Department.

The release states that the department is exploring options to livestream the service, which will be limited to immediate family members due to coronavirus-related public health orders.

"The family of Officer Lee is prioritizing the safety and well-being of everyone who wants to pay their respects and is emphasizing adhering to public health orders as the service becomes finalized," the release states.

Information about a procession will be posted on the Navajo Police Department Facebook page.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer issued a proclamation on June 23, ordering flags on the Navajo Nation to be flown at half-staff from June 24 through June 25.

Officer Michael Lee

Lee died on June 19 and he was assigned to the Chinle Police District. His death was the first for a current officer with the department due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has greatly impacted the Navajo Nation.

His career in law enforcement started in October 1990 as a police recruit with the Navajo Police Academy in Toyei, Arizona.

Among his work during 29 years of service, he was a patrol officer and a Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act officer.

"Officer Lee was adamant about keeping family members safe during this pandemic. The family is planning his service to honor his role as a protector and are prioritizing safety and well-being for family, friends, and everyone who has been touched by the life of Officer Lee," Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco said in the release.

"Planning a service under these circumstances is difficult, but with the heart Officer Lee had for his family and community, he would want everyone to be safe. Having said that, we are doing all we can to ensure we look at all avenues to accommodate extended family, officers, and dignitaries while honoring his life as a police officer," Francisco said.

The family has established the Memorial Account for Officer Michael Lee at Wells Fargo Bank under account No. 5341652773.

Donations are also accepted through Zelle, under account No. 5341652773 or phone number 928-551-3225 and the name of Erica Jake.

Criminal investigator in Arizona dies from COVID-19

The Navajo Division of Public Safety mourns the death of Criminal Investigator Esther Charley, who worked with the Dilkon, Arizona office of the Department of Criminal Investigations.

Navajo police spokeswoman Christina Tsosie confirmed Charley died from COVID-19. The family is requesting privacy at this time.

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President Nez said during the online town hall meeting arranged by his office that he was informed about Charley the morning of June 23.

"Those who know Esther, she was in the hospital for some time too and fought hard, fought hard against COVID-19 and our prayers go out to her family and also her community," Nez said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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