The police chief of Tucson, Arizona, offered to resign Wednesday afternoon after releasing a disturbing video of a Hispanic man’s death while in police custody in April.
Carlos Ingram-Lopez, 27, died on April 21, after authorities restrained him with his head on the ground for more than 12 minutes. His grandmother had called 911 to report a domestic disturbance, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said in a Wednesday press conference.
“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 Wednesday, before proposing sweeping police reforms. “Now we must center the conversation to police accountability and transparency. When officers do not perform as trained, they need to be held accountable.”
The three officers involved in the incident—which drew widespread outrage amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis—have already resigned. While authorities concluded “no blows, strikes, chokeholds, knee to the neck, chemical or electronic weapons were used” during the incident, Magnus said the officers involved did not follow department protocol.
“I can’t say enough, this is a terrible tragedy,” Magnus said, adding that he is offering his resignation over the “horrible” incident. “The officers, in this case, did not live up to our department’s high standard. He added that the three officers, who are Hispanic and Black, would have been terminated if they had not resigned.
Authorities said the April 21 incident began around 1 a.m. when Ingram-Lopez’s grandmother called 911.
“She reported he was drunk, yelling, and running around the house naked,” Magnus said, noting that the 27-year-old had been previously arrested for domestic violence and disorderly conduct.
According to the body-camera footage released Wednesday, the officers arrived at the back of the house and found Lopez in the garage, where they immediately handcuffed him and placed him face down on the ground.
“Get on the fucking ground, get on the ground,” one officer says, while several other individuals can be heard screaming. His voice trembling, Ingram-Lopez is heard saying, “OK, please, please,” to the officers.
While the video is difficult to make out in the dark garage, the screams continue as officers continue to struggle to restrain the 27-year-old, who is heard crying and repeatedly apologizing to officers.
“I just want some water,” he repeatedly says during the 25-minute video. “I can’t breathe,” he complains minutes later.
After several minutes, officers can be seen placing yellow blankets on top of Ingram-Lopez’s naked body. “You’re going to get shocked dude, you’re going to get zapped,” an officer says at one point.
Approximately 12 minutes into the incident, Magnus said officers discovered Ingram-Lopez was unresponsive. Concerned he had overdosed on drugs, the officers gave him Narcan and began CPR. When emergency medical personnel arrived at the scene, they continued to use life-saving measures—but it was too late, and the 27-year-old was pronounced dead on the scene.
The Pima County Medical Examiner stated that Ingram-Lopez’s cause of death was “a sudden cardiac arrest, with acute cocaine intoxication and an enlarged heart.” The report, however, listed the manner of death as “undetermined.”
Mayor Romero said it was unacceptable that neither her office nor the public was notified of this death immediately after it happened and called for a “swift but a thorough investigation” into the incident. She is also proposing sweeping changes in the city's policing procedures, including establishing a community policing initiative. She added that she was not aware of Magnus’ decision to offer his resignation, saying he has been “an honest, a great police chief for the city of Tucson.”
“People are mad, people are disappointed and rightfully so,” she said.