TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Three former Tucson Police officers took the wrong path while responding to a call on April 21, 2020. A path that ended in the death of a 27-year-old man.
KOLD News 13 spoke with a police practices expert on the in-custody death after he reviewed the body camera footage and investigation report.
“As you’re watching the video, anybody could see, ‘oh my god, stop, stop guys. Focus on this medically,‘” said retired Phoenix Police Commander Jeff Hynes. He now teaches at Glendale Community College.
Hynes said it was not what the officers did, it was what they didn’t do when, what was initially an “unknown trouble” call, turned into a medical situation.
“There were so many other warning signs going on and these three officers missed it and that’s the tragedy,” said Hyned.
The alerts, he said, should have gone off that Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez was in a state of “excited delirium.” A Tucson Police Department Personnel Report details signs, including nudity, sweating, overheating, hallucination and other symptoms, which Ingram-Lopez was exhibiting.
“They went down the path and focused clearly on the arrest as opposed to the medical crisis they had before them,” said Hynes.
According to the report, which can be read HERE, officers are trained extensively on the signs and symptoms of excited delirium due to the high probability of death.
“These cases usually require force to detain the subject, and a struggle increases the subject’s heart rate, which in turn increases the chance for death. Officers are taught to move a subject with these signs and symptoms into the recovery position as soon as possible and get medical care started immediately.”
Ingram-Lopez was pronounced dead at 2:06 a.m., less than an hour after officers first showed up on the scene.
The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner released the autopsy and toxicology reports on Ingram-Lopez that stated the cause of death was “sudden cardiac arrest in the setting of acute cocaine intoxication and physical restraint with cardiac left ventricular hypertrophy as a significant contributing condition.”
The manner of death has not been determined.
The toxicology report showed positive tests for stimulants, both benzoylecgonine and cocaine. Prior to his death, there was reported shouting with aggressive behavior and reported physical restraint.
“I stopped and I paused and said, ‘This is Tucson PD?' It can’t be. They do so much better than this,” said Hynes.
The 32-year law enforcement veteran said the Tucson Police Department sets a high standard in training and response for mental health calls. The training for the three officers was tracked in personnel report.
“Everybody is going to share a little bit of the blame on this, but the bottom line is we train, we train, we train for when we are dealing with somebody in this position,” said Hynes.
Ingram-Lopez was left handcuffed and facedown, which was “against all training provided.” The report states officers “intermittently applied pressure to his torso and legs for 12 minutes.”
“The fact that they did not focus on this medically and focused on the arrest situation is going to haunt them forever and haunt the profession,” said Hynes. “I can assure you that agencies are going to be reassess their response policies.”
That is a conversation we’ve already heard among department and city leaders. Hynes said there needs to be more focus on this soft side of the profession.
The TPD said the three officers resigned after the incident. Chief Chris Magnus said they would’ve been terminated following the investigation. According to the report, each violated at least a dozen general orders.
“Unfortunately, unfortunately and I’ll say that one more time, unfortunately they missed the mark and four lives were changed that night,” said Hynes. “The death and the lives of these three officers for going down the wrong path.”
Chief Magnus said the incident was sent to the Pima County Attorney’s Office and to the FBI for review. KOLD News 13 asked if Hynes thought there would be any legal action or charges in the future for the officers.
“In my professional opinion, that would be inappropriate,” said Hynes. “This was a tragic miscall on these officers part. As I’m watching, there was no malice to call harm to this individual and no where in the investigation does it show malice, that they did this on purpose. They went down an enforcement path.”