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Tucson Police Chief Offers to Resign After Details of a Latino Man’s In-Custody Death Take Two Months to Go Public

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  • On Wednesday, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus offered to resign following his department’s handling of the in-custody death of 27-year-old Carlos Ingram Lopez in April. 
  • The three officers involved that case resigned last Thursday. 
  • The details of that death were not made public for two months, with them only coming to light after a Tucson City Councilmember raised concerns.
  • Now, Mayor Regina Romero is proposing a series of reforms, including immediate public notification of in-custody deaths, a community safety pilot division featuring mental health professionals, and an overhaul of the community police advisory board.

Latino Man Dies in Police Custody

Carlos Ingram Lopez died in Tucson police custody on two months ago, however, details of his death weren’t made public until this week, prompting outrage from the community.

In fact, details only came to light after Tucson Councilmember Lane Santa Cruz refused to participate in a city council meeting on Tuesday without addressing Lopez’s death.

“I will not participate in the Mayor & Council meeting today because of the tragedy and death of one of our community members at the hands of Tucson police officers,” she wrote on Facebook. “I do not take my responsibilities as a council member lightly, and I cannot, in good conscience, sit by and conduct business as usual without addressing this tragedy.” 

What followed was a number of responses, including outrage from Mayor Regina Romero for reportedly not being informed of Lopez’s death earlier. The fallout even led to Police Chief Chris Magnus offering to resign. 

The incident started when Lopez’s grandmother called the cops to her home around 1:00 a.m. on April 21, claiming that Lopez was drunk, naked, and running around the house. When police arrived, they found Lopez in a distressed state and chased him into a garage. 

According to Tucson PD, the three officers who responded to the scene were Jonathan Jackson, Samuel Routledge, and Ryan Starbuck. They reportedly wrestled Lopez to the ground, handcuffed him, and held him face down for 12 minutes.

Now-public footage shows Lopez crying out for his grandmother, pleading for water, and saying he couldn’t breathe. Reportedly, police also placed a mesh spit hood over his head.

Ultimately, Lopez became unresponsive after those 12 minutes, Magnus said. Police then gave him the overdose reversal drug Narcan, believing he had overdosed. According to Magnus, they performed CPR on Lopez, but a short time later, he was pronounced dead on the scene.

An autopsy released Wednesday revealed that Lopez had died from a combination of sudden cardiac arrest involving cocaine intoxication and physical restraint.

On June 18, Jackson, Routledge, and Starbuck resigned.

Source: Tucson PD; (L to R) Jonathan Jackson, Samuel Routledge, and Ryan Starbuck

Why It Took Two Months to Learn Details

After Santa Cruz demanded Lopez’s death be addressed, Romero reportedly watched bodycam footage of the encounter and canceled the city council meeting that same day.

The next day, at a press conference, Romero and the Tucson Police Department publicly released that body cam footage. 

“As mayor and as a mother, I am troubled and outraged by what happened,” she said. 

“In the video we see a person who is clearly distressed, asking for water, asking for help, asking for his nana,” she added. “Now, we must center the conversation on police accountability and transparency.” 

“These officers would have been terminated had they not resigned. I absolutely would have supported that decision.” 

At the news conference, Magnus echoed that statement and said all three of the officers involved violated multiple department policies during the arrest.

“All employees have the right to resign at any time,” he said. “However, the files of these officers reflect that the department would have terminated them had they not resigned.”

Still, Magnus refused to discuss what those violations were or provide additional detail, promising to address them in a forthcoming report. 

Despite that, Magnus said none of the three officers involved had met established mental health training standards for interacting with individuals he described as having an “excited delirium.”

Currently, the county attorney’s office is reviewing findings from an internal investigation, but it’s yet to make a determination about any possible charges. Magnus said he has also reached out to the FBI and asked them to conduct an independent investigation.

As to why it took two months for the Tucson Police Department to release the details of Lopez’s death, Magnus said he believes it was an error resulting from an unfortunate overlap in timing with coronavirus safety measures. 

“This notification should have taken place, but I am confident that there was no purposeful or calculated effort to withhold this information,” he said. “I’ll remind you that this incident took place at the start of the most intense period of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I believe the notification process to the public could have been missed, at least in part, due to some of the chaos that was going on during that period.” 

“But nonetheless, public notification should have happened, and we have put steps in place to assure that going forward any in custody is immediately brought to the public’s attention,” he added. 

Police Chief Offers to Resign, Mayor Proposes Reforms

At that news conference, Magnus also offered to resign, though it is unclear if Romero or the city council will accept his resignation. 

“To demonstrate my willingness to take accountability for these mistakes, I am offering my resignation to the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager, which they can accept or handle as they view appropriate,” he said. 

If Magnus does resign, he’ll follow a string of police chiefs who’ve now lost their jobs. In Atlanta, Police Chief Erika Shields resigned following the death of Rayshard Brooks. In Kentucky, Steve Conrad was fired as police chief after officers with the Louisville Metro PoliceDepartment killed a restaurant owner in a shootout that didn’t involve him. In Richmond, William Smith was forced to resign as police chief after being asked by Mayor Levar Stoney.

In the wake of delays around Lopez’s death, Romero has proposed a series of reforms for the city. Among other things, police would be required to immediately inform the mayor, city council, and community of any in-custody death. 

Romero also now plans to create a new community safety pilot division, which would integrate mental health professionals and drug-dependency specialists as support services.

Additionally, she plans to expand the role of the city’s community police advisory review board to handle internal investigations—not just external public complaints.

See what others are saying: (AZ Central) (The New York Times) (KGUN)

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Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances

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Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.


One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down

After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.

The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.

Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.

A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.

The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.

In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.

The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.

A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.

Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye

“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.

Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.

Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.

“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.

When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.

“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”

On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.

On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.

Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)

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U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide

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India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.


One Million Dead

The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.

Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.

The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.

By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.

The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.

The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.

People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.

Fifteen Million Dead

On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.

Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.

Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.

The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.

“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.

Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.

See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)

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Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”

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Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.


New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer

Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.

“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”

Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.

Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”

“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.

Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.

Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.

“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”

Mysterious Escape

Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.

Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.

Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.

It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.

During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”

At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.” 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (ABC News) (NPR)

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