Three Tucson police officers and their chief resigned after Carlos Ingram-Lopez dies in police custody

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Frank Deanrdo (Flickr)

2002 Ford Police Interceptor

Ivana Venema-Nunez , Reporter

Three police officers and Chief Chris Magnus resigned from the Tucson Police Department after 27-year-old Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez died while in police custody. 

During the press briefing on Wednesday Magnus said that the investigation into the death of Ingram-Lopez is underway, and will continue.  It has been determined that the three police officers involved in the incident, all of whom have resigned but have not been officially charged,  violated department policies during the arrest, according to an Arizona Republic article. 

“All employees have the right to resign at any time,” Magnus said. “However, the files of these officers reflect that the department would have terminated them had they not resigned.”

Magnus announced his resignation after the press was shown the police body-cam footage of Ingram-Lopez’s arrest.

“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 announced after the press was shown the video footage in question. 

According to the police press briefing, Tucson police arrived at the house of Ingram-Lopez’s grandmother after she called them in the early morning hours of April 21. Reportedly, when the officers arrived, Ingram-Lopez appeared distressed and was running naked in the dim-lit garage. 

The police wrestled Ingram-Lopez to the ground, where they handcuffed him and positioned him facing down.

Familiar words of “I can’t breathe” and “I’m sorry!”  are yelled and repeated throughout the video while one officer sits on his legs and another holds his arms behind his back.

“Relax, alright? Relax,” said one of the officers. “You’re going to get shocked,” an officer was also heard telling him.

Police had him restrained, facing down and wheezing, for a total of 12 minutes according to the Arizona Republic article. 

But when Ingram-Lopez, who was covered with a disposable blanket at the moment, was not responsive the police administered Narcan in an attempt to reverse what they believed to be a drug overdose.  When that didn’t work, they then proceeded to perform CPR.

Emergency medical technicians arrived and took over before Ingram-Lopez was pronounced dead at the house. 

“As mayor and as a mother, I am troubled and outraged by what happened,” said Regina Romero, Mayor of Tucson in her statement following the video.

“In the video we see a person who is clearly distressed, asking for water, asking for help, asking for his ‘nana’,” Romero said. “Now we must center the conversation on police accountability and transparency.”

Romero also said that she “absolutely would have supported” the decision to terminate the officers had they not resigned, according to the article.

According to The Pima County Medical Examiner, Ingram-Lopez’s cause of death was “sudden cardiac arrest in the setting of acute cocaine intoxication and physical restraint.”

According to the report, Ingram-Lopez “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.”

Chief Magnus stated several times during the press briefing that there is an investigation but that there was no knee on Ingram-Lopez’s neck.

“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,” Magnus said.

While the Pima County Attorney’s criminal investigation is ongoing, Magnus also said that he referred the case to the FBI for further review, according to the article.

Magnus maintained that “in-custody deaths involving the Tucson Police Department are very rare” and that his department’s “highest value is the sanctity of life.”