Tucson police chief addresses in-custody death near midtown, releases body cam footage

GRAPHIC CONTENT: TPD Chief Chris Magnus addresses in-custody death - Aug. 4, 2020

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: The video contains content that might be difficult for some people to watch.

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson Police Department is in the preliminary stages of an internal investigation looking into an in-custody death that happened in the early-morning hours Tuesday, Aug. 4, TPD Chief Chris Magnus said in a news briefing.

This incident comes weeks after the department has come under scrutiny for two unrelated in-custody deaths, including one that was withheld from the public for at least two months.

The man, identified as 29-year-old Jesus Gutierrez, died moments after police arrived at the scene, where officers were originally called to respond to a possible intruder. Magnus said an older man called the police to his home near Craycroft Road and Pima Street just after 2 a.m. because the man said he saw Gutierrez acting erratically in the backyard.

When officers arrived at the home, Gutierrez was already lying on ground, unresponsive, according to body camera footage shown by the department.

The officers handcuffed Gutierrez, then moved him onto his side — the recommended position for possible overdose victims — and administered two doses of Narcan, a drug known to help treat overdoses, but that did not help his state, footage shows.

Officers called paramedics and a fourth officer arrived to help move Gutierrez to the front yard of the home, Magnus said. Officers called paramedics again and asked them to hasten their response; by the time Gutierrez was moved to the front yard, officers discovered he did not have a pulse and began CPR.

Crews with the Tucson Fire Department arrived shortly after and declared Gutierrez dead at the scene.

Later that same day, Magnus and other high-level officials within the department responded to the scene to begin the investigation into the man’s death.

“They followed our protocols, they called fro EMS right away and they even made an additional call later,” Magnus said in a news conference Tuesday. “I thought they demonstrated compassion toward him. ... I thought their actions were very appropriate. So far, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen.”

Magnus said officers found drug paraphernalia and a prescription for medication that treats opioid addiction.

Because the investigation is still in the early stages, Magnus said the autopsy or toxicology reports aren’t complete yet.

Magnus said the investigation is still ongoing and wanted to show the video for better transparency.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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