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Tucson police kill Chicano in custody; 3 officers resign amid investigation

Heard on video saying ‘I can’t breathe’ before death
By staff |
June 24, 2020
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Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez.
Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez.

Tucson, AZ - On April 21, Tucson police officers responded to a call from the grandmother of Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez saying he was out of control. Within ten minutes upon arrival, Ingram-Lopez lay lifeless on their garage floor, naked, handcuffed and covered in layers of plastic police blankets. The autopsy report has ruled the manner of death as “undetermined” but that the cause of death as “sudden cardiac arrest in the setting of acute cocaine intoxication and physical restraint.” The autopsy also shared that it was reported that officers applied a spit hood.

June 24 saw the horrific scene displayed by body cam footage revealed Ingram-Lopez, aged 27 and father of a two-year-old daughter, to initially say “I’m sorry” two times as police enter the dark garage. As three officers handcuff and restrain Ingram-Lopez on his stomach, he repeatedly asked for water in both English and Spanish, pleading “Nana, por favor dame agua.” He is also heard saying “I can’t breathe” - a phrase too often heard from African American victims of police crimes. Throughout the video, Ingram-Lopez is clearly expressing sounds of distress and towards the end, he attempts to clear his throat as if his breathing is obstructed. It is only after Ingram-Lopez’s final twitch of life that officers remove the plastic blankets that covered his body and head and discover he is unresponsive.

Chief Magnus of the Tucson Police Department held a press conference June 24 to deflect any criticism of his department because his officers received “the best training” and that these three officers “did not live up to our high standards.” He continued after public display of the video that it would be “irresponsible” and “unfair” to describe what took place as “murder” or that Ingram-Lopez died “at the hands of police.” Magnus admitted that the three officers involved would have been terminated at the conclusion of the investigation for “multiple policy violations” but they resigned before that could take place.

Family friend and lawyer for Ingram-Lopez’ family, Eduardo Coronado, has stated “Adrian was naked, no weapons, police get there, and he died in their custody handcuffed.” Coronado explained that he has requested footage and details since April and had been routinely denied access thus delaying any official pursuit of civil or criminal charges.

His grandmother is asking others to promote the use of the hashtag #NanaAyudaMe (Nana Help Me) to circulate through social media in memory of Adrian. Community organizer B.A. Orozco gave context to this callous disregard of human life by saying “What the Tucson Police Department has done is nothing new to Chicano/a community in the Southwest. Not only does the police racially profile and brutalize Chicanos, but also, in compliance with SB 1070 and the Poli-Migra, they have separated and ruined generations of Mexicanos, Chicanos, Central Americanos, with aggressive racial profiling and deportations. There is an urgent need here for the creation of an organization like the Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression that struggles for justice in places like Chicago, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Utah and Minneapolis. Tucson, like all other cities, needs to fight for community control of the police with something like a Civilian Police Accountability Council.”