"As chief, I accept responsibility for both these serious misstep, although I believe neither was a result of any sort of malevolence or deliberate attempt to hide anything," Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said. "To demonstrate my willingness to take accountability for these mistakes, I am offering my resignation to the mayor, city council and the city manager, which they can accept or handle as they deem fit."
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus offered his resignation to Mayor Regina Romero over how TDP officers handled the in-custody death of Carlos Ingram-Lopez last April during today's press conference regarding the incident.
Before announcing his offer of resignation, Magnus addressed and accepted responsibility for the department's failure to notify the public of the in-custody death of Ingram-Lopez while he was in their custody. He also took responsibility for TPD executive officers' failure to review bodycam footage of the incident in a timely manner.
"As chief, I accept responsibility for both these serious misstep, although I believe neither was a result of any sort of malevolence or deliberate attempt to hide anything," Magnus said. "To demonstrate my willingness to take accountability for these mistakes, I am offering my resignation to the mayor, city council and the city manager, which they can accept or handle as they deem fit."
Ward 2 Councilmember Paul Cunningham said Magnus still has his full support.
"I've already asked the chief not to resign," Cunningham said. "While the incident in April was tragic and demonstrates the need for police reform, our chief has a track record of being community-oriented and a police reformer. I think it would be a mistake to let Chief Magnus go."
Ward 6 Councilmember Steve Kozachik also thinks accepting Magnus' resignation would be a mistake.
"He was let down by people who work for him and he has been an excellent chief," Kozachik said. "I don't think there is any rational reason for (Magnus) to resign and I've already told (City Manager) Mike Ortega if he is polling people, my vote is to retain him."
After Kozachik viewed the bodycam footage, he believes the fault lies with the officer's handling of the situation—not the chief.
"(The officers) did not implement the training that they've had. They did not do the de-escalation well. They did not call EMTs soon enough. They did not change his body position soon enough," Kozachik said. "They should have turned him over gave him some water and tried to come him down. So, yeah...they made multiple mistakes."
Kozachik takes issue with what he considers misinformation on social media about the details of the case, especially when it's coming from one of his colleagues—Ward 1 Councilmember Lane Santa Cruz.
"I think that the rhetoric that's going around that (the TPD officers) murdered the guy, like what's coming out of Lane Santa Cruz's office, that there was police violence," Kozachik said. "If you look at the video you see there was no violence. They made a lot of procedural mistakes. Their resignation was fine by me."
Councilmember Santa Cruz was unavailable for comment after several attempts, but she did release a statement prior to this afternoon's press conference.
"I cannot unwatch and unknow that officers used their bodies, denial of water, denial of air, and plastic blankets as a weapon against an unarmed, vulnerable young father in distress," Santa Cruz said. “Minimizing the unconscionable behavior of the officers involved is infuriating and dangerous. Shootings and chokeholds are not the only forms of violence.”
In the statement, Santa Cruz urges the mayor and council to "ensure that the Tucson Police Department has transparency on any deaths in police custody" while accepting community input. She also would like the council to establish time frames for case review and institute better community oversight policies and community oversight groups.
“We say that it takes a village to raise a child, well it takes a village to fail them too," Santa Cruz said. "We need answers and justice for the Ingram-Lopez family.”