Video shows death of man, 27, in police custody; chief offers to resign

The police chief in Tucson, Arizona, offered his resignation Wednesday upon the public release of a video showing the death of a 27-year-old man in police custody.

Chief Chris Magnus' offer to resign came at a news conference two days after a video of the in-custody death was shown to the Tucson City Council on Monday.

Magnus said at the news conference that police had failed to disclose the death of Carlos Ingram-Lopez on April 21 in a timely manner, even though the department had been investigating the incident.

He said Ingram-Lopez’s grandmother had called police at about 1 a.m. on April 21, “and told the police operator that her grandson was drunk, yelling, and running around the house naked.”

“When the officers arrived at the house. Mr. Carlos Ingram-Lopez ran from them into a dark enclosed garage where the officers ordered him to the floor, handcuffed him behind his back and placed him in a prone position, which means they placed him face down,” the chief said.

Magnus also told reporters that Ingram-Lopez “had committed domestic violence against a significant other and disorderly conduct involving his family two days prior to his grandmother calling police.”

The video released by police on Wednesday shows Ingram-Lopez frantically running around a dark garage at the relative's home before officers handcuff him. The video quality is low due to poor lighting, but Ingram-Lopez can be heard thrashing, asking for water numerous times, and whimpering as he lay face-down on the ground.

Eventually, an officer puts what appears to be a yellow plastic blanket over his entire body and adds another blanket soon after.

Ingram-Lopez is heard crying over and over and saying “no” repeatedly as he’s on the ground and covered. After a few minutes, he stops making noise or moving.

Ingram-Lopez had been restrained in handcuffs, according to a police statement. "No blows, strikes, chokeholds, knee to the neck, chemical or electronic weapons were used. No shots were fired," the statement said.

Officers administered chest compressions before emergency medical personnel declared him dead on scene.

The medical examiner’s office didn’t determine a manner of death but said Ingram-Lopez had died of sudden cardiac arrest while intoxicated by cocaine and physically restrained.

An autopsy report said that Ingram-Lopez was restrained "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," the report said.

Magnus, who was appointed chief in 2016, said three of the officers who responded “committed multiple policy violations and failed to handle the incident consistent with their training.” The three officers resigned but would have been fired anyway, Magnus said.

A police spokesman said Thursday that questions about what specific policies were violated and other questions were being directed to the chief's office, which did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

The officers, who have not been identified, resigned Friday, shortly before the department's internal investigation was completed, according to TucsonSentinel.com.

City Council member Lane Santa Cruz said in a statement after watching the video, "I cannot unwatch and unknow that officers used their bodies, denial of water, denial of air and plastic blankets as a weapon against an unarmed, vulnerable young father in distress."

The Tucson Police Officers Association said in a statement that the video "shows absolutely no police use of force or any violence at all, but rather the tragic death of a man due to cardiac arrest, caused by an extremely high level of cocaine in the individual's system."

Magnus said Wednesday, “I can’t say enough, this is a terrible tragedy and I had a chance to meet with the family earlier today to express my condolences and to let them know how much I sympathize with the loss of Carlos.”

He said that although he was briefed the day after Ingram-Lopez's death, nobody in his administration viewed the video then. He called the failure to make the death public a misstep, but said it was not done with malicious intent.

The criminal investigation into Ingram-Lopez's death was sent to the county attorney's office, which has yet to determine whether it will file charges against the officers. The FBI will also review evidence surrounding Ingram-Lopez's death to determine what federal response is warranted, a bureau spokeswoman said in a statement to NBC News.

Magnus was appointed chief in 2016. The city council and city manager have to approve his resignation.

A visibly surprised Mayor Regina Romero said during Wednesday's news conference that she wasn't aware Magnus had planned to offer his resignation. She said he has been “an honest and great” police chief.

Romero, a Democrat, said she was disturbed by the video showing Ingram-Lopez's death and that police must be held accountable.

“Events like this remind us that even some of the most progressive police departments with some of the most forward-thinking policies and rigorous training are not immune to failure,” the mayor said.

Ingram-Lopez, a Latino man who went by the name Adrian, was the father of a toddler, NBC affiliate KVOA reported.

Council member Santa Cruz, who has been calling for answers since learning of his death, said in her statement that the actions of the police officers should not be minimized. "Shootings and chokeholds are not the only forms of violence," she said.

"Adrian was a young Latino father who, in his final moments, pleaded for water, and cried out for his nana," Santa Cruz said.

A personal friend and attorney for Ingram-Lopez's family, Eduardo Coronado, did not respond to immediately to a phone call Thursday requesting comment.

"To me he always had an enormous heart," Coronado told KVOA.

"How does it go from police being called on no crime being reported and then someone dying?" Coronado said. He said he had requested footage of the incident back in April but did not receive it.