Celebrating 40 Years
THE HISPANIC BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY’S STATEMENT ON THE MURDER OF CARLOS INGRAM LOPEZ WHILE IN CUSTODY OF THE TUCSON POLICE DEPARTMENT.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 2, 2020
Carlos Ingram Lopez. Another victim and name we must say and remember due to the same senseless use of deadly, excessive force by law enforcement officers, resulting in yet another brutal and unjust murder. This must stop.
The Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (“HBA-NJ”) is horrified by the murder of Carlos Ingram Lopez, a 27-year-old cooking school graduate from Tucson, Arizona, a father to a 2-year-old daughter, a fiancé, a brother, a son, a grandson, a cousin, a friend. On April 21, 2020, Mr. Ingram-Lopez’s grandmother called the police early in the morning, stating that he was acting erratically and that he was experiencing what has since been described as a “mental crisis”. When the police officers arrived at the scene, Mr. Ingram-Lopez was naked. Notwithstanding his state of mind, the officers restrained Mr. Ingram-Lopez face-down to the ground, handcuffed him, put at least one plastic blanket over him, and a mesh spit guard for 12 grueling and uninterrupted minutes before he stopped moving. Carlos can be heard on one of the police officer’s bodycams making various pleas for help, in English and Spanish, for water (agua), and for his grandmother (nana), and asking her to help him (nana ayudame – help me). And, in an all too familiar plea made by minority victims of police brutality, Carlos also told the officers that he could not breathe. The officers did not care. The bodycam video of Carlos’ unnecessary and horrific death was just made public despite the crime being committed almost 2 months ago.
The Tucson Police Department, like most police departments across the nation, is under scrutiny for their use of excessive force on the black and Latinx community. Mr. Ingram Lopez’s death, about a month before George Floyd’s death, is another troubling reason why police reform is warranted and necessary. Since publication of Mr. Floyd’s death, society has witnessed deeply disturbing interactions between the police and peaceful protestors, some resulting in unnecessary serious injury and death.
Tuscon Police Chief Chris Magnus, known as a progressive, forward-thinking Chief, offered his resignation and conceded that the officers failed to follow proper protocol for dealing with a person experiencing a mental health crisis involving “excited delirium.” He also acknowledged that his department failed to disclose the death in a timely manner and that the three officers involved had violated department policy. The three officers involved – Samuel Routledge, Ryan Starbuck, and Jonathan Jackson – have since resigned. Tuscon Mayor Regina Romero, Tuscon’s first Latina mayor, expressed outrage at the incident and said that a life was “needlessly lost” and that the three officers would have been terminated had they not resigned.
There should be zero tolerance for such inaction and misconduct and the resignation of the officers is not a sufficient response. HBA-NJ President Melinda Colón Cox, stated: “There is no evidence that Carlos Ingram-Lopez was threatening the officers, resisting arrest or that the level of physical force used against Carlos was warranted. Law enforcement officers are trained to protect and serve and should be held to a higher standard in these types of situations. The officers involved must be held accountable, regardless of whether there was any willful or malicious intent. A human life was unnecessarily lost as a result of their failure to follow proper protocols for physical restraints and for handling an incident involving a person experiencing a mental crisis. Resignation is not enough. Carlos and his family deserve justice.”
Police Chief Magnus has reportedly requested that the F.B.I. examine the circumstances that led to Mr. Ingram-Lopez’s death, adding: “I hope we can learn from this incident, do better, and achieve at least some level of healing within the community.” The criminal investigation into the incident has also been sent to the county attorney’s office, which has to date, not determined or announced whether it will file criminal charges against the officers.
HBA-NJ President Melinda Colón Cox said: “Our hearts go out to the family of Carlos Ingram Lopez, who was only 27. Our hearts also go out to the families of Rayshard Brooks and Elijah McClain, who were killed by police officers, and the countless other families affected by police brutality. An interaction between a police officer and an individual of the black or brown community should not be a death sentence. We cannot afford to lose any more lives. Time is up. Our elected officials must act now and our community must show up and vote for the 2020 election to ensure that change is implemented.”
About The Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
Founded in 1980, the HBA-NJ is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit association that is comprised of attorneys, judges, law professors, law students, and other professionals who share a common interest in addressing the issues affecting Hispanics within the legal community.
The purpose of the Association is to serve the public interest: (i) by cultivating the art and science of jurisprudence, (ii) by advancing the standing of the legal profession, and (iii) by preserving high standards of integrity, honor, and professional courtesy among Hispanic lawyers.
Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
P.O. Box 25562, Newark, NJ 07101
For press inquiries, please contact: Alba V. Aviles, Esq., HBA-NJ Press Secretary, at email@example.com or (973) 966-8034.
For more information about the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, please visit our website at: www.njhba.org or contact Melinda Colón Cox, Esq., HBA-NJ President, at Melinda.Cox@piblaw.com or (908) 333-6214.