Tucson leaders aim to reestablish community trust in police following in-custody death

Restoring trust with Tucson police

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The city of Tucson and the Tucson Police Department have begun the task of restoring trust after it was shattered when a 27-year-old man died in police custody earlier this year.

Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez died April 21, 2020, when police responded to a 911 call at a home on the east side.

A police investigation showed Ingram-Lopez died during his arrest, in which three police officers failed to follow Tucson Police Department standards of care during the incident.

Ingram-Lopez was handcuffed and placed face down for 12 minutes at which time he became unresponsive. Attempts at reviving him were unsuccessful and died at the scene shortly after Tucson medics arrived.

Several times during the ordeal he complained of being thirsty and begged for water but those pleas were ignored.

The incident was captured on police body cameras but it did not become public until June 21, a full two months after the death.

The Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and council members were not immediately notified of the death, which is common practice in officer-involved killings.

As a result, Tucson’s Mayor Regina Romero, has introduced four measures which she hopes will help restore public trust and to prevent it from happening again.

First, city leaders will be informed immediately of any in-custody death.

“It is simply unacceptable that both mayor and council and the public were not notified of this incident,” Romero said.

Secondly, there will be an effort to enlist social services, health care workers, mental health workers and those who work with the homeless into police work.

The third will be to strengthen the role and function of the Independent Police Auditor.

And finally, an overhaul of the Community Police Advisory Review Board to make it more transparent and accessible.

“This is a step forward in restoring that trust,” Romero said. “It’s not just the police department but the mayor and council.”

The reform measures will likely come before the council in early July for debate.

Ward 6 Councilmember Steve Kozachik said police need to remember they are dealing with human beings.

“I mean, really, that’s where we’re at on this thing,” he said. “You treat them like that in the heat of the moment.”

He agrees the city needs to be notified immediately when there is an in-custody death rather than waiting until an investigation is complete.

“I would like to think there was no malicious intent,” he said. “But let’s codify it so that question goes away going forward.”

Ward 4 Councilmember Nikki Lee is hoping this can change the approach to policing and is a learning experience.

“What broke down and how can we fix it going forward, clearly there’s work to be done,” she said. “This is a chance for us to make improvements.”

“Now we have to re-establish trust,” Kozachik said. “You know those three guys put us behind the eight ball and unfortunately that’s where we are today.”

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.