Family of man who died in TPD custody speaks out

Updated: Aug. 5, 2020 at 10:45 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The family of Jesus “Junior” Gutierrez is speaking out after he died in police custody Tuesday morning, Aug. 4.

Gutierrez died moments after police arrived at a midtown home, where Tucson police officers were originally called to respond to a possible intruder. TPD Chief Chris 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.

His family is now speaking out for the first time today wanting to share more on who he was.

“He cared about others more than he did himself and that’s what we tried to get him to realize that you need to care for you too,” said Marisol Martinez, Gutierrez’s aunt.

The family had viewed the body camera footage prior to its public release and said they do not place blame on the police for what happened.

“I believe it was a female officer that was with him, I was listening to her. She was great, she was very compassionate I could hear it in her voice,” said Martinez. “No one places blame on anyone. We just want people to know we loved him.”

Although toxicology reports are not in yet, TPD said they found drug paraphernalia at the scene.

His family says Gutierrez had a history of substance abuse and was often in and out of rehab. They said the rehab centers had trouble dealing with his bipolar disorder as well.

He had been in the hospital two weeks ago for detox, but his family was unaware he had been discharged.

“I was under the impression he was still in the hospital. I didn’t even know he was back on the streets,” said Gutierrez’s sister, Ali Rodriguez.

Now they hope from this tragic situation, more light is shed on the mental health system and rehabilitation programs, rather than the police footage.

“There are so many kids and adults out there that are passing and they’re not getting the treatment they need to recover,” said Martinez.

In hopes that other families are spared the same pain, and that the focus is on who Gutierrez was.

Magnus said the investigation is still ongoing.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.