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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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Derek Chauvin and 3 Others Ex-Officers Indicted on Civil Rights Charges Over George Floyd’s Death

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  • The Justice Department filed federal criminal charges Friday against Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers after a grand jury indicted them for violating the civil rights of George Floyd.
  • The indictment charges Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao for violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force. All three, as well as Thomas Lane, were also charged with failing to provide medical care to Floyd. 
  • Chauvin was additionally hit with two counts in a separate indictment, which claims he violated the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy who he allegedly held by the neck and repeatedly beat with a flashlight during a 2017 arrest.
  • Chauvin was already convicted last month of murder and manslaughter over Floyd’s death, which Kueng, Lane, and Thao were previously charged for allegedly aiding and abetting.

Former Minneapolis Officers Hit With Federal Charges

A federal grand jury indicted Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers for violating George Floyd’s civil rights during the arrest that lead to his death last summer, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Chauvin, specifically, was charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force by a police officer. Ex-officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were indicted for willfully failing to intervene in Chauvin’s unreasonable use of force.

All three men, as well as former officer Thomas Lane, face charges for failing to provide medical care to Floyd, “thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd,” according to the indictment.

In a second, separate indictment, Chauvin was hit with two counts of civil rights violations related to the arrest of a 14-year-old boy in September 2017. During that incident, Chauvin allegedly held the boy by the neck and hit him with a flashlight repeatedly.

The announcement, which follows a months-long investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, comes just over two weeks after Chauvin was found guilty of three state charges of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.

He is currently awaiting his June 25 sentencing in a maximum-security prison.

State-Level Charges

Kueng, Lane, and Thao all face state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Kueng and Lane were the first officers to responded to a call from a convenience store employee who claimed that Floyd used a counterfeit $20 bill. Body camera footage showed Floyd sitting in the car and Lane drawing his gun as the officers ordered him out and handcuffed him. 

Floyd can be heard pleading with the officers not to shoot him.

Shortly after, Chauvin and Thao arrived, and the footage shows Chauvin joining the other officers in their attempt to put Floyd into the back of a police car. In the struggle, the officers forced Floyd to the ground, with Chauvin kneeling on his neck while Kueng and Lane held his back and legs. 

Meanwhile, in cellphone footage taken at the scene, Thao can be seen ordering bystanders to stay away, and later preventing a Minneapolis firefighter from giving Floyd medical aid.

Their trial is set to begin in late August, and all three are free on bond. The new federal charges, however, will likely be more difficult to prove.

According to legal experts, prosecutors will have to show beyond reasonable doubt that the officers knew that they were depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights but continued to do so anyway.

The high legal standard is also hard to establish, as officers can easily claim they acted out of fear or even poor judgment.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)

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Caitlyn Jenner Says Her Friends Are Fleeing California Because of the Homeless Population

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  • California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner sparked outrage after an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday that was filmed from her Malibu airplane hangar. 
  • “My friends are leaving California,” she said. “My hangar, the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless.’”
  • Many criticized Jenner for sounding out of touch and unsympathetic to real issues in California and suggested that she prioritize helping the homeless population rather than incredibly wealthy state residents.

Caitlyn Jenner’s Remarks

California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner sparked outrage on Wednesday after suggesting that wealthy people are fleeing the state because of its homeless population.

Jenner sat down for an interview in her Malibu airplane hangar with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Jenner is one of the handful of Republicans aiming to unseat current Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall election in the fall. While polls show that most Californians do not support recalling Newsom, the conservative-led movement to do so gained enough signatures to land on the ballot.

“My friends are leaving California,” Jenner claimed during the interview. “My hangar, the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, ‘where are you going?’ And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona, I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless.’” 

“I don’t want to leave,” she continued. “Either I stay and fight, or I get out of here.”

Jenner’s Remarks Prompt Backlash

Her remarks were criticized online by people who thought Jenner sounded unsympathetic and out of touch to the real issues in the state. Many found it hypocritical that Jenner has slammed Newsom for being elite but was so concerned for wealthy people who don’t like having to see unhoused residents on the street.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Ca.) called Jenner out on Twitter for seemingly fighting for a small percentage of Californians. 

Unlike you, Dems are focused on the 99% of people who don’t own planes or hangars,” he wrote. “And you know what’s going to help reduce homelessness? The #AmericanRescuePlan, which your party opposed.”

Others suggested she prioritize directly addressing the homeless situation.

“If you don’t like the homeless situation, instead of hiding in your PRIVATE PLANE HANGAR, your campaign should be about helping them,” actress Merrin Dungey said. “They don’t like their situation either. Your lifelong privilege is showing. It’s not a good color.”

Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist and reality star, is one of the most prominent transgender Americans. Because homelessness is such a common issue within the trans community, some were frustrated she was not using her campaign to fix the situation, and rather used it to complain about how it impacted her wealthy friends. 

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Politico) (Washington Post)

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Derek Chauvin Seeks New Trial In George Floyd Murder Case

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  • A lawyer for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, filed a motion Tuesday for a new trial.
  • Among other complaints about Chauvin’s conviction, the attorney cited “prosecutorial and jury misconduct; errors of law at trial; and a verdict that is contrary to law.”
  • He also claimed the court “abused its discretion” by not granting a change of venue or sequestering the jury for the duration of the trial, arguing that publicity before and during it threatened its fairness. 
  • John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, told CNN, “The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them.”

Derek Chauvin’s Attorney Files Motion for New Trial

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is officially asking for a new trial, hoping to overturn his conviction for the murder of George Floyd.

His attorney, Eric Nelson, filed court paperwork Tuesday laying out a number of errors he believes were made during Chauvin’s legal proceedings that violated his constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial. Nelson cited alleged issues, including, “prosecutorial and jury misconduct; errors of law at trial; and a verdict that is contrary to law.”

The filing did not cite any specific examples of jury misconduct, but Nelson also argued that the court “abused its discretion” by not granting a change of venue or sequestering the jury for the duration of the trial.

The court proceedings took place in the same city where Floyd was killed and where protesters drew national attention by calling for justice in his name. As a result, Nelson claimed that publicity before and during the trial threatened its fairness. He also argued that a defense expert witness was intimidated after he testified, but before the jury deliberated.

His filing asks for a hearing to impeach the guilty verdict, in part, on the grounds that the 12 jurors “felt threatened or intimidated, felt race-based pressure during the proceedings, and/or failed to adhere to instructions during deliberations.”

It’s unclear exactly what will come of this request, but John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, told CNN, “The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them.”

For instance, a judge previously denied Chauvin’s request to move the trial in March, saying, “I don’t think there’s any place in the state of Minnesota that has not been subjected to extreme amounts of publicity on this case.”

See what others are saying: (CNN) (NPR) (CBS)

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