Tucson city manager rejects police chief resignation offer

Tucson city manager rejects police chief resignation offer
Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus speaks at a news conference in which he offered his resignation, as Tucson Mayor Regina Romero (left) listens on Wednesday, June 24. (Source: KOLD News 13)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tucson City Manager Michael Ortega said Thursday he has rejected Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus’ offer to resign. The move comes moments after Mayor Regina Romero released a statement saying she would like to keep Magnus as chief.

Councilman Steve Kozachik sent a news release supporting Ortega’s decision saying that “it sends a strong message of support from a super-majority of the Council for the Chief”

Just moments before, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero issued a statement Thursday in response to Tucson Police Department Chief Chris Magnus’ offer to resign, saying the decision is ultimately up to the city manager.

In her statement, Romero wrote the decision falls on City Manager Michael Ortega. However, following a conference on Wednesday, June 24, where city leaders addressed the death of a Tucson man in police custody and where the chief offered his resignation, Romero wrote that she does not believe Magnus should resign.

Romero praised the chief for his “forward-thinking changes” to the department during his tenure and said she looked forward to working with him as the city addresses police reform.

Magnus’ offer came after city leaders showed footage of the arrest and subsequent death of Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez, a 27-year-old Hispanic man who died in police custody. Ingram-Lopez died while restrained during an arrest at his relative’s home in April.

Police handcuffed Ingram-Lopez and placed him on his stomach for 12 minutes as he asked for water, which he did not receive. Ingram-Lopez went unconscious and died soon after medics arrived, footage shows.

All three of the arresting officers — Jonathan Jackson, Samuel Routledge and Ryan Starbuck — resigned last week, records show. In Wednesday’s conference, Magnus said the three would have been fired for multiple policy violations had they not resigned.

Read Romero’s full response to the chief’s resignation offer below:

“In this moment, my focus is on the fact that the life of a fellow Tucsonan, Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez, was needlessly lost. The Chief’s abrupt announcement at the press conference yesterday should not take away from that. I continue to extend my most sincere condolences to the family of Carlos Adrian during this incredibly difficult time for them. The best way we can honor Carlos Adrian’s memory is by coming together and taking immediate action to build a better, more just community.

By city charter, it is the City Manager’s responsibility to accept resignations or fire Department Directors. After listening to the feedback of my colleagues on the Council, I do not believe the Chief should resign.

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. Now is the time to work together and rebuild public trust in our police department by increasing transparency, ensuring accountability, and re-imagining how we provide safety to our community. I look forward to working with Chief Magnus to accomplish these reforms.”

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