PHOENIX (AP) – The Tucson, Arizona police chief offered his resignation on Wednesday, two months after a 27-year-old man died while handcuffed and placed face down, resulting in the firing of three officers whose chief said he had violated departmental policy.
Chief Chris Magnus offered his resignation at a news conference the day after Carlos Ingram-Lopez’s death was made public on April 21, acknowledging that the department had not announced the death in time. The city council and the city council must approve the dismissal.
The medical examiner’s office did not determine a mode of death, but said Ingram-Lopez had died of sudden cardiac arrest, intoxicated by cocaine and physically disabled.
Ingram-Lopez lay face down on the floor with a blanket over his head when he stopped breathing. The police had gone to his house after his grandmother called them because he acted erratically.
Mayor Regina Romero said she was surprised by Magnus’s offer of dismissal and thought about it, adding that he has been “an honest and wonderful” police chief.
A Democrat Romero said she was deeply troubled and disgusted by what she saw on a video of the incident. She said Ingram-Lopez was clearly in distress and the police should be held accountable.
“Events like this remind us that even some of the most progressive police forces with some of the most progressive policies and rigorous training are not immune to failure,” said Romero.
The case came to light when Americans across the country protested police brutality, which is disproportionately affecting many black Americans and Hispanics. This week, activists have called on authorities to further investigate the death of a young Spanish man in Gardena, south of Los Angeles. Police say 18-year-old Andres Guardado was shot by a deputy sheriff last Thursday. Ingram-Lopez was also Spanish.
Magnus, who was made chief in 2016, said three of the agents who responded “committed multiple policy violations and did not handle the incident in accordance with their training.” The three officers have resigned, but are said to have been fired, Magnus said.
“I can’t say enough, this is a terrible tragedy and I had the opportunity earlier in the day to meet the family to express my condolences and let them know how much I feel for Carlos’s loss,” said Magnus.
The criminal investigation into Ingram-Lopez’s death was sent to the prosecutor, who has not yet determined whether to bring charges against the officers.
A video shown to the media on Wednesday shows Ingram-Lopez running hysterically through a dark garage before officers shackle him and shout that he should calm down. The video quality is low due to poor lighting, but Ingram-Lopez can be heard knocking, asking for water several times and wailing while lying face down on the floor. At one point, he says he can’t breathe, Magnus said.
Finally, an officer puts what looks like a yellow plastic blanket all over his body and adds another blanket shortly after.
Ingram-Lopez is heard crying over and over and repeatedly saying no while lying on the floor and covered. After a few minutes he stops making noise or moving.
Officers administered chest compressions before emergency medical personnel pronounced him dead on the spot.
Magnus said he asked the FBI to investigate. He said that although he was notified the day after Ingram-Lopez’s death, no one in his government had watched the video when. He called the failure to make death public a mistake, but said it was not done on purpose.
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