June 25, 2020 / 7:01 PM / 17 days ago

City manager rejects Tucson police chief resignation over man's death

TUCSON, Ariz. (Reuters) - The city manager of Tucson, Arizona said on Thursday he had rejected a resignation offer from its police chief over the death of a man in custody who said he “could not breathe” after he was handcuffed and restrained face down.

“I am not accepting Chief Magnus’ offer of resignation nor am I requesting it,” Tucson City Manager Mike Ortega said in an email to the mayor and city councillors, most of whom had stated publicly their opposition to police chief Chris Magnus stepping down.

Magnus on Wednesday offered to resign after he released a video showing the April 21 death of Latino man Carlos Ingram Lopez as police restrained him with his hands behind his back for about 12 minutes, according to a police report.

Family and friends of Ingram Lopez called for a 7 p.m. community vigil in Tucson to honor his life.

“We are convinced that holding the police chiefs and officers responsible for the death of Carlos Adrian is the first step towards achieving justice,” the group Justice for Adrian said in a statement.

Police bodycam video showed Ingram Lopez repeatedly asking for water, crying out for his grandmother, and breathing heavily before he eventually fell silent. Three officers involved in the incident resigned a day before a police investigation found they committed multiple policy violations.

Ingram Lopez, who had a fiance and two-year-old child, died after his grandmother called the police on April 21 and said he was “drunk and yelling.”

The report said officers Samuel Routledge, Ryan Starbuck and Jonathan Jackson failed to follow training on how to deal with someone in a state of “excited delirium.”

Ingram-Lopez died from sudden cardiac arrest with acute cocaine intoxication, physical restraint and an enlarged heart, according to the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner’s report.

Reporting by Paul Ingram in Tucscon; Additional reporting and writing by Andrew Hay; Editing by Bill Tarrant, Rosalba O'Brien and Daniel Wallis

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