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Press Release

Kirby Cleveland Charged with Murder of Navajo Nation Tribal Police Officer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Kirby Cleveland made his initial appearance in federal court this morning on a criminal complaint charging him with murder, announced Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney, Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, and Director Jesse Delmar of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety. Cleveland remains in custody pending a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing, both of which are scheduled for March 22, 2017.


The criminal complaint, which was filed on March 14, 2017, charges Cleveland, 32, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation from Prewitt, N.M., with murdering a Navajo Nation tribal police officer. The criminal complaint alleges that Cleveland shot the victim officer, who was responding to a domestic violence call, on the night of March 11, 2017. The victim officer died on March 12, 2017, as the result of the gunshot injuries he sustained. If convicted on the murder charge, Cleveland faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.


Cleveland was arrested on tribal charges on March 12, 2017, by the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, and he remained in tribal custody until March 20, 2017, when the tribal charges against him were dismissed. Immediately after the dismissal of the tribal charges, the FBI arrested Cleveland on the criminal complaint.


The Gallup and Albuquerque offices of the FBI and the Crownpoint, Shiprock and Chinle offices of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety are investigating this case, with assistance from the New Mexico State Police and the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Novaline D. Wilson and Niki Tapia-Brito are prosecuting the case.

Updated March 21, 2017

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime