TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – The Mayor of Tucson, Arizona, said on Thursday that the city’s police chief should remain on his job, even as criticism of the death of a young Spanish man while in prison is mounting.
Democrat Mayor Regina Romero said Chief Chris Magnus should not step down because he has improved the police since he was in charge four years ago.
“Chief Magnus has made progressive changes in (departmental) policies, practices and training, and has built strong relationships with our community,” Romero wrote.
Magnus offered his resignation at a news conference on Wednesday at which police showed a video of the death of April 27, Carlos Ingram-Lopez, on April 21.
The death was only made public this week and Magnus received a lot of criticism for not disclosing it earlier.
Ingram-Lopez’s family and friends plan to hold a wake later on Thursday, calling for accountability, a thorough investigation, and an end to police brutality.
Ingram-Lopez’s case sparked outrage when protesters across the country denounced police atrocities. A hashtag for “ayudame, nana” – “help me, grandma” has been widely circulated to draw attention to some of his last words as he begged for help.
Online tribute for Ingram-Lopez shows a glowing new dad with a girl; there are photos of a young Ingram-Lopez dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween and others showing him blowing out candles on a Mickey Mouse cake.
Ingram-Lopez died while handcuffed, upside down and covered with a thin blanket, after police responded to a call from his grandmother who said he had been behaving erratically at her home.
The medical examiner’s office did not determine a mode of death, but said Ingram-Lopez died of sudden cardiac arrest, intoxicated by cocaine and physically disabled.
Video from the agents’ body cameras show a hysterical Ingram-Lopez being ignored by officers while repeatedly begging for water. He screamed, cried and wailed for minutes on the floor, then suddenly stopped making noises. Agents administered an antidote and attempted CPR, but Ingram-Lopez died on the spot.
Magnus said that three of the agents who responded “committed multiple policy violations and did not handle the incident in accordance with their training.”
They quit, but would have been fired if they hadn’t, Magnus said.
Magnus was appointed to his position in 2016. In addition to supporting him, Romero said that it is time for the police to restore public confidence by being more transparent, accountable and “re-imagining how we provide security to our community”.
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