Police chief in Tucson offers to resign after video is released of a man who died in police custody

Police body cameras show a man dying in police custody after being handcuffed facedown for 12 minutes, leading local government officials to make statements about police reform.

Last Updated:
June 25, 2020 - 12:18pm

An Arizona police chief has offered his resignation following the release of video showing a male suspect going into cardiac arrest and dying in April while being handcuffed and arrested. 

The incident occurred April 21 when Tucson, Arizona, police officers responded to a call for service from the grandmother of Ingram Lopez. Police arrived to find the 27-year-old Lopez distressed and running around naked inside a dimly lit garage.

Police body cameras show the officers wrestling Lopez to the ground and handcuffing him facedown.

The video also shows Lopez in distress and breathing heavily. One officer sat on his legs while the other holds his arms behind his back. Lopez was reportedly facedown and wheezing for 12 minutes. One of the officers put a yellow plastic blanket over his body.

After Lopez became unresponsive, the officers performed CPR until the emergency medical technicians arrived and took over. Lopez was pronounced dead at the location, according to USA Today.

The medical examiner’s office said Lopez died of sudden cardiac while being handcuffed and restrained after the ingestion of cocaine.

Police Chief Chris Magnus apologized Wednesday for the department’s delay in notifying the public of the incident, during his resignation. 

“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 in a press conference announcing his decision. 

Tucson Mayor Romero said she did not know Magnus would offer to resign before the press conference and did not say whether Magnus’ resignation would be accepted. City officials noted that he would potentially be removed by the city manager, and not the mayor.

The officers involved in this incident have already resigned. The mayor, Regina Romero, said she “absolutely would have supported” the decision to terminate the officers had they not resigned.

“In this video, we see a person who is clearly distressed. A person asking for water, asking for help, asking for his nana,” Romero said Wednesday. “Now we must center the conversation to police accountability and transparency. When officers do not perform as trained, they need to be held accountable.”

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