Home News World Another Nightmare Video and the Police on the Defensive in Tucson

Another Nightmare Video and the Police on the Defensive in Tucson

The mayor and Chief Magnus have both said they will make sure that the police review video of all in-custody deaths and quickly inform the public, something Ms. Romero said they already do for police shootings. Ms. Romero said that in many cases, however, the videos themselves should not be released until an internal review is completed.

“There needs to be police accountability and transparency as much as we possibly can,” she said. “And there needs to be a fair internal investigation as well. It’s a balanced approach that we need to take.”

Mr. Coronado is hoping to receive information from the internal investigation of the death to decide the next legal steps forward on behalf of the family. One of the options, he said, could be filing a civil suit against the police force. In the meantime, Chief Magnus said he had asked the F.B.I. to examine the circumstances surrounding Mr. Lopez’s death.

Mr. Coronado had been a friend of Mr. Lopez’s family since Mr. Lopez was about 2 years old. When he watched the video, Mr. Coronado said, he was overcome with “heartbreak, horror, anguish, pain and bewilderment.”

Mr. Coronado said the family was questioning the necessity of the spit hood, the mesh covering that the police placed over Mr. Lopez’s head. The family is worried that the spit hood was impeding Mr. Lopez’s breathing, and they said that Mr. Lopez was gasping for air while he was being restrained face down on the concrete floor, according to Mr. Coronado.

“All of a sudden, 12 minutes later he’s passed away,” Mr. Coronado said.

Mr. Lopez’s family sees the fatal encounter as representative of a larger problem, Mr. Coronado said. According to Mr. Lopez’s family, the police’s objective when they arrived at the grandmother’s house should have been to assist Mr. Lopez, rather than to arrest him right away, Mr. Coronado said.

Roberto Villaseñor, who was Tucson’s police chief until he retired in 2015, said officers were trained not to leave people in that position. “You never try and leave someone on their stomach,” he said. “You turn them to the side and help them sit up so they can breathe. Why they didn’t do that here is going to be one of the major questions.”

Manny Fernandez contributed reporting.

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