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DIGGING DEEPER: TPD gets new restrains in response to in-custody deaths

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TUCSON (KVOA) - It has been more than a year since the in-custody deaths of Carlos Adrian Ingram Lopez and Damien Alvarado. Both died while handcuffed by Tucson Police Department.

Their deaths caused a firestorm, with many community members calling for the police to rethink procedures about restraining combative suspects.

Now, they have.

Since December, TPD has been using a restraint device called The Wrap. It is a pilot program.

The restraint helps with combative individuals being arrested.

"Keep them out of the prone position and in a safe position for their breathing so they are not able to hurt themselves," said Lt. Thomas Hawke, who is with the advance training section.

Bodyworn cameras by Tucson police captured 27-year-old Carlos Adrian Ingram Lopez back in 2020.

Tucson police were called by his grandmother who said he was uncontrollable and on drugs.

Police handcuffed him, held him face down on his stomach for some 12 minutes. He told police he could not breathe.

He was in what police call the "prone" position.

"Following that incident, we had a centennial review board," Hawke said. "And one of the recommendations that came out of that was to look for alternatives to the tarp as the restraint device."

The department came up with a system called "the wrap." It takes three to four officers to safely place on someone who is being combative.

Lt. Hawke said, the goal is to "get them in a recovery position so they are able to breathe easier. And stop the fight so they're not exerting any more energy trying to fight us either."

Police said it can all be done in 40 seconds.  

Once, the handcuffs are on, the lower body is restrained. Then the individual can be transported to a squad car or an ambulance.

"There's no more struggle and we're not having to use any more force," Hawke said.

The lieutenant said they just received a new shipment of the wrap restraints. They will be training the officers in the next couple of weeks.

Eduardo Coronado who represented the Lopez family said he was pleased to hear about the newly acquired restraint. He said anything that will make the community safer is a plus.

However, he did have some questions about how the officers are going to subdue the combative individual long enough to get them into the safety restraints.

He said perhaps additional training for officers or having a trained professional who deals with people with mental health issues might be the key.

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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