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Tucson police chief Chris Magnus to resign as bodycam video showed Carlos Ingram Lopez died in police custody

Magnus said 3 cops involved in the incident have resigned but they have not yet been found criminally responsible for the 27-year-old's death
Screenshot from the Video by Tucson Police Department
Screenshot from the Video by Tucson Police Department

TUCSON, ARIZONA: Tucson police chief Chris Magnus has offered to resign on Wednesday, June 24, after body camera footage revealed the death of a man in police custody. Carlos Ingram Lopez died in police custody in April. The video of the incident was released amid the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s May 25 death.

Magnus said while the three police officers involved in the incident have since resigned, they have not yet been found criminally responsible for the death of 27-year-old Lopez. However, an investigation into the case discovered that they violated department policies during the arrest. “All employees have the right to resign at any time. However, the files of these officers reflect that the department would have terminated them had they not resigned,” Magnus said as reported by USA Today.

In addition to this, Magnus also apologized on the department’s behalf for the delay in notifying the public, as well as city’s Mayor Regina Romero, and Council of Lopez’s death and in reviewing the footage of the incident. “To demonstrate my willingness to take accountability for these mistakes, I am offering my resignation to the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager, which they can accept or handle as they view appropriate," Magnus said after the video was showed publicly for the first time on Wednesday.

The footage captured by the body camera showed officers responding to the house of Lopez after his grandmother called them in the early morning hours of April 21. The officers, whose names have not been released, were then seen running after a distressed and naked Lopez into the dimly-lit garage. They then managed to put the victim on the ground while handcuffing him and positioning him facing down.

In the video, Lopez was heard yelling repeatedly that he “was sorry”. He was also heard breathing heavily and crying as one officer sat on his legs and another held his arms behind his back. "Relax, alright? Relax,” one cop said in the video while another said, “You're going to get shocked.”

According to reports, police kept Lopez restrained, facing down and wheezing for around 12 minutes. In those minutes, the victim had even complained of not able to breathe and also repeatedly demanded a glass of water. "Mr. Ingram-Lopez went into cardiac arrest and, despite the officer's attempt to revive him, was declared deceased at the scene," Magnus said.

Screenshot from the Video by Tucson Police Department

The police chief also said that the three officers committed "multiple policy violations" as found during an internal investigation, but he noted "that there is no indication of malicious intent" and added that the cops did not "deploy strikes, use chokeholds, or place a knee on Mr. Ingram-Lopez's neck." However, Magnus did not elaborate on the policies that were violated by the officers involved, CNN reported.

While Mayor Romero said she as “mayor and as a mother” was “troubled and outraged by what happened”. "In the video we see a person who is clearly distressed, asking for water, asking for help, asking for his nana. Now we must center the conversation on police accountability and transparency,” she said in her statement following the release of the video. Romero added that she "absolutely would have supported" the decision to terminate the cops if they had not resigned.

Meanwhile, an autopsy report released by the Pima County Medical Examiner on June 24 stated that Lopez’s cause of death was "sudden cardiac arrest in the setting of acute cocaine intoxication and physical restraint." The report said that the victim "was reportedly restrained by law enforcement following erratic behavior, including shouting, at the residence of a relative. He was reportedly restrained in a prone position with a spit hood and became unresponsive."

"He died despite resuscitative efforts by emergency medical services providers, who reported a body temperature of 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit. A white powdery substance was found within the residence,” the report added. However, the report also mentioned the manner of Lopez’s death remains "unknown”, and pointing to that Magnus said: "It really is irresponsible and unfair for anyone to conclude that Mr. Ingram was murdered by the police or that he 'died at the hands of the police.'"