A man has died after police officers restrained him on hot tarmac for six minutes in 100 degree heat.
Ramon Timothy Lopez, 28, died after struggling with Phoenix police officers during an arrest on August 4. Minutes after he was restrained against the scorching asphalt, Lopez became unresponsive in the back of the police car.
After police tried to resuscitate him, declaring him to be ‘fine’ in footage taken at the scene, Lopez was taken to hospital and pronounced dead at 11.21am.
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As reported by the Arizona Republic, Lopez’s cause of death is still pending from the medical examiner’s office. Two separate investigations are now under way into the what happened that day, and will examine the actions taken by officers.
The incident began after officers received reports of a man exhibiting suspicious behaviour in a parking lot, allegedly looking into people’s vehicles and sticking his tongue out.
Lopez ran away once a police vehicle arrived at the scene, leading to Phoenix Police Officer Todd Stevens pursuing him in the car to a store. It was here where Lopez allegedly stole a drink, with Stevens confronting him as he left the store.
Body-cam footage taken at the scene shows a brief chase, during which Lopez threw the drink at the Stevens. After he was caught, both Lopez and Stevens could be seen to fall to the ground.
It was at this point that Stevens got on top of Lopez, restraining him before being joined by Officers Andrew Williams and Roszell Mosley.
Lopez could be heard shouting out during the struggle that ensued, with one officer heard to say, ‘Left arm broken’.
An incident report later stated that Lopez had ‘super strength’, making it ‘very difficult’ for officers to restrain him. Mosley had reportedly attempted to control Lopez’ arm and had heard a ‘click, click’ sound. He later stated that the suspect hadn’t shown any signs of pain on his face.
Officers could then be seen to handcuff Lopez, who appeared not to to be moving at this point, while holding his legs down on the hot pavement. A restraint was also placed around his ankles.
Officers then lifted Lopez into the back of a police vehicle. As per time stamps on the bodycam footage, Lopez had been restrained on the tarmac for almost six minutes by this point.
That day, the temperature at 10.30am in Phoenix had been 99 degrees, with the temperature of blacktop capable of reaching 40 to 60 degrees higher than the atmospheric temperature.
As per the Arizona Republic, Phoenix police have since provided photographs of Lopez which show purple and white streaks on his back as well as what appears to be burns in the material of his shirt. There was also a scrape measuring six inches on his arm.
The cause of death is still unknown, with toxicology and autopsy reports having not yet been released. Investigations are underway by both the Phoenix police’s Professional Standards Bureau and its homicide unit. The completed reports will be submitted and reviewed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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