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Tucson Police Face Backlash After Death Of Latino Man In Custody

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Police in Tucson, Arizona, are receiving backlash after video footage of a Latino man’s death in their custody was made public during a press conference Wednesday.

The Tucson Police Department, which operates in a politically moderate and heavily Latino city, has generally been regarded as a relatively progressive police force, The New York Times reported Thursday. Regina Romero, the city’s first Latina mayor, was at the conference and later remarked that the incident was the result of a “breakdown” inside the police force.

The footage released at the press conference depicts an April 21 incident between 27-year-old Carlos Ingram-Lopez and Tucson police. Ingram-Lopez was stopped outside his grandmother’s house after his family reported he was drunk and running around the house naked, according to NPR.

Police wrestled a fully naked Ingram-Lopez to the ground, covering him in a mesh spit guard and cuffing his hands behind his back. Body camera footage shows Ingram-Lopez being pinned to the ground for 12 minutes, and he is reportedly heard asking for water and telling the officers he can’t breathe.

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The Pima County Medical Examiner released an autopsy report Wednesday attributing the cause of death to “sudden cardiac arrest in the setting of acute cocaine intoxication and physical restraint,” The Arizona Republic reported. (RELATED: Colorado Attorney General To Investigate Death Of Elijah McClain As Special Prosecutor)

Three officers involved in the deadly interaction resigned before the video was made public. Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus offered his resignation during the press conference Wednesday, although the mayor indicated that she would not accept his resignation, according to The New York Times.

Ingram-Lopez’s death is likely to affect the Tucson Police Department’s image as a progressive police force. Magnus previously pushed through a number of reforms, like banning chokeholds, but the incident and the two-month delay in releasing footage have prompted wider criticism, The New York Times reported.

The situation is reflective of recent cases across the country. In particular, cases of police violence targeting black and Latino people have fueled public outrage over what many people consider to be evidence of racism in policing.