The police chief of Tucson, Arizona, has offered to resign after a Hispanic man, 27, died in handcuffs while pleading ‘I can’t breathe’ more than two months ago.
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus made the offer during a press conference Wednesday where he released disturbing bodycam footage showing Carlos Ingram-Lopez’s ‘horrible’ death while being detained by three cops back on April 21.
Ingram-Lopez died after he was pinned to the ground for more than 12 minutes as he begged for water and said he couldn’t breathe – the same words uttered by black man George Floyd who was ‘murdered’ by a white cop in Minneapolis last month.
Three cops involved in his arrest, identified as Jonathan Jackson, Samuel Routledge and Ryan Starbuck, have already resigned from the force after an internal investigation recommended their firing.
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus made the offer during a press conference Wednesday where he released disturbing bodycam footage showing Carlos Ingram-Lopez’s ‘horrible’ death while being detained by three cops back on April 21
Magnus called the 27-year-old’s death a ‘terrible tragedy’ and ‘horrible’ in the press conference Wednesday.
‘I can’t say enough, this is a terrible tragedy,’ the police chief said.
‘The officers, in this case, did not live up to our department’s high standard,’ he said, adding that if they had not already resigned they would have been fired by the department.
In the shocking bodycam footage, the three cops are seen arriving at Ingram-Lopez’s grandmother’s home at around 1a.m. after she called 911 to report a domestic disturbance.
‘She reported he was drunk, yelling, and running around the house naked,’ Magnus said.
In the 25-minute video, the cops are seen running after the naked man into a dimly-lit garage where they then handcuff him and detain him face down on the ground.
Ingram-Lopez is visibly distressed in the video and is heard repeatedly saying ‘sorry’, screaming and making gasping noises.
At one point he says ‘I can’t breathe’ and repeatedly begs for water from the officers.
‘I wish I had some water,’ he is heard saying. ‘Can you please give me some water?’
Disturbing bodycam footage released Wednesday shows Ingram-Lopez died on April 21 after he was pinned to the ground for more than 12 minutes by three cops during his arrest at his grandmother’s home
In the 25-minute bodycam footage (pictured) he is heard begging for water and at one point says ‘I can’t breathe’
Several minutes in the cops cover him with a blanket before he is found to be unresponsive around 12 minutes into the video
Around eight minutes into the video, the officers cover his naked body with a blanket.
The cops keep telling him to ‘relax’ and to ‘calm the f** down’.
At one point one of the officers threatens to taser him: ‘You’re going to get shocked dude, you’re going to get zapped.’
Around 12 minutes into the video, the cops realize the man has become unresponsive.
‘He’s gone down,’ one of the officers is heard saying.
‘Is he breathing?’ asks another.
The officers try to wake him, yelling ‘hey’ at him while a distressed woman comes into the garage asking what has happened.
The cops then move Ingram-Lopez and are seen performing CPR on him.
Magnus said the cops also gave him Narcan as they were worried he had overdosed on drugs.
Ingram-Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency responders arrived and also could not revive him.
The Pima County Medical Examiner said his cause of death was a ‘sudden cardiac arrest’ and that he had ‘acute cocaine intoxication and an enlarged heart.’
They added that there were ‘no shots fired’ in the man’s arrest.
‘The person had been restrained in handcuffs. No blows, strikes, chokeholds, knee to the neck, chemical or electronic weapons were used. No shots were fired,’ they said.
However, the police chief and mayor have both slammed the actions of the officers.
‘In this video, we see a person who is clearly distressed. A person asking for water, asking for help, asking for his nana,’ Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said of the bodycam footage at Wednesday’s press conference.
‘Now we must center the conversation to police accountability and transparency. When officers do not perform as trained, they need to be held accountable.’
Romero blasted the failings for her office and the public to be notified of the man’s death in police custody immediately after it took place.
Police chief Chris Magnus (pictured) called the 27-year-old’s death a ‘terrible tragedy’ and ‘horrible’ in the press conference Wednesday
‘People are mad, people are disappointed and rightfully so,’ she said.
She called for a ‘swift but a thorough investigation’ into the Hispanic man’s death and vowed to make reforms to the police force.
She also praised Magnus as ‘an honest, a great police chief for the city of Tucson’ and said she didn’t know about his offer of resignation before the meeting.
It is not yet clear if the police chief’s offer will be accepted.
The release of the footage comes more than two months after the incident occurred.
Romero said earlier Wednesday it was being delayed at the request of Ingram-Lopez’s family, who were yet to see it.
The three cops Jackson, Routledge and Starbuck resigned over the incident last week after an investigation by the TPD said they were guilty of failing to take appropriate action, use of force and actions on duty, reported KOLD.com.
‘The investigation revealed a series of actions by each of the three focus officers that showed complete disregard for the training provided to each, disregard for established policy, but most importantly an apparent indifference or inability to recognize an individual in medical distress and take the appropriate action to mitigate the distress,’ Assistant Chief Kevin Hall wrote in the investigation.
The death came to light when a Tucson City Council meeting in which police funding was set to be discussed was suddenly cancelled.
Mayor Romero said: ‘After viewing a video yesterday of a Tucson Police Department in-custody death, I do not feel that it would be appropriate to carry on with business as usual in light of this event.’
A review board which makes recommendations to Tucson police department has not met since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jaime Tadeo, a member of the board, said recommendations had been made to the department about cops’ training.
‘There have been open conversations with TPD about transparency, about how they are handling their trainings lately which includes how trained they are in dealing with substance use,’ said Tadeo.
The Hispanic man’s death follows a string of deaths of people of color while in police custody as calls mount for an end to police brutality and systemic racism and for sweeping police reforms across the country.
Protests were sparked following the Memorial Day ‘murder’ of black man Floyd at the hands of a white cop who knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while he said ‘I can’t breathe’.
As well as demanding justice for Floyd, demonstrators are also calling for justice for Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and most recently Rayshard Brooks.