Phoenix police investigating the death of a man in their custody

Phoenix police investigating the death of a man in their custody

Phoenix police are investigating the death of a man who struggled with officers before being detained on August 4, a statement from the police department said.

Ramon Timothy Lopez, 28, was seen “looking into vehicles and making obscene gestures” in a Phoenix shopping center, police say.

When the first officer responded around 10:20 a.m., Lopez ran into a nearby convenience store, police say. When the officer followed, he left the store, throwing a drink in the officer’s face in the process, police say.

Eventually the chase ended when the officer tackled Lopez to the ground in the middle of a nearby road, the statement from Phoenix police says. Other officers then arrived to assist the first officer.

Lopez “was eventually subdued and handcuffed,” the statement said.

“Due to his erratic behavior, officers also utilized a leg restraint to keep him from kicking,” it added.

CNN affiliate KNXV obtained bystander video that shows officers holding Lopez on the asphalt.

“[I] felt he was using a lot of force to slam his body into the ground,” said the woman who recorded the video. She asked KNXV to not identify her.

“The gentleman seems like he was still struggling, but at that point, it seemed like he just didn’t want his face smashed on the asphalt. It was super hot.”

The temperature was 100 degrees Fahrenheit at 11 a.m. that day at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

“The officer was by himself and when he grabbed hold of Ramon, they both fell onto the hot asphalt and both could have been struck by vehicles on 51st Avenue,” Phoenix police spokeswoman Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said in an email to KNXV.

When asked about the bystander footage, Fortune said that “a [Critical Incident Briefing] video will be shared with our community depicting the actions of Lopez and our officers during this incident.”

Once Lopez was placed in the back of the police vehicle and moved out of the roadway, officers say they discovered he was unresponsive.

“The suspect was removed from the vehicle and officers began to reposition him and provided water,” the statement said.

Lopez was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead, the statement from police said.

A cause of death is not known at this time and, according to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner website, the autopsy results are still pending.

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