Tucson mayor sticks with police chief after custody death

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said Thursday that the city’s police chief should stay on in his job despite offering to resign over fallout from the custody death of a Hispanic man.

Romero, a Democrat, said in a statement that Chief Chris Magnus should not resign because he has improved the police department since he took charge of it four years ago.

“Chief Magnus has brought forward thinking changes to TPD policies, practices and trainings, and has built strong relationships with our community since he joined the Department in 2016,” Romero wrote.

Magnus offered his resignation during a news conference on Wednesday in which police showed video of the April 21 death of 27-year-old Carlos Ingram-Lopez.

The death wasn't made public until this week and Magnus was heavily criticized for failing to disclose it earlier.

Ingram-Lopez died while handcuffed, placed face-down and covered with a thin blanket after police responded to a call from his grandmother, who said he had been acting erratically at her home.

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

The video from the officers' body cameras show a hysterical Ingram-Lopez ignored by officers as he repeatedly begged for water. He screamed, cried and whimpered for minutes while he was handcuffed and face-down on the ground and then suddenly stopped making noise. Officers administered an overdose antidote and attempted CPR, but Ingram-Lopez died at the scene.

Magnus said three of the officers who responded “committed multiple policy violations and failed to handle the incident consistent with their training.”

They resigned but would have been fired if they had not resigned, Magnus said.

Magnus was appointed to his job in 2016.

Besides supporting Magnus, Romero said it is time for the police department to rebuild public trust by being more transparent, ensuring accountability and “and re-imagining how we provide safety to our community.”