Police body cam footage of the arrest of a Latino in Arizona show him being restrained on the hot pavement for several minutes which could have contributed to his death minutes later. Ramon Timothy Lopez – who lived in Merced, Calif. – was visiting his two children in Arizona when the arrest happened. His mother, Laura Gonzalez, told AZCentral, “My son went to Arizona to visit and he never came home.” Now she’s trying to make sense of what occurred when he was arrested that led to his death.
Police arrested Lopez, 28, in west Phoenix after they received a call that a man was acting erratically in the parking lot of a shopping center August 4 at 10:30 a.m. according to the Phoenix police report. When the police arrive there’s footage of him running away then entering a convenience store where he allegedly stole a drink which he then threw at a police officer.
Officer Todd Stevens then got on top of Lopez and restrained him and was then Officers Andrew Williams and Roszell Mosley joined him. The body cam time stamps indicate he was held down for almost six minutes on the pavement face down and sustained a cut on his arm and what appeared to be burns on his body.
The temperature at 10:30 a.m. that day was 99 degrees in Phoenix, according to the National Weather Service in Phoenix. Blacktop asphalt (which contains more stone than concrete) can reach 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the atmospheric temperature, AZ Central reports. One officer can also be heard saying, “Left arm broken,” referring to Lopez, according to the body-camera videos.
Officers immediately checked on Lopez and saw he was unresponsive, according to the police report. They took him out of the police vehicle to try and awaken him and provide water which they poured on him. Fire personnel arrived and took over medical treatment and he was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
“I want the truth and I want accountability,” Gonzalez said. They set up a fundraiser for his funeral costs which has raised $3,625, surpassing the $2,500 goal.
A Phoenix police spokeswoman told ABC15 officers used force against Lopez in February when they say he ran away from them as well. They said the man was walking across the parking lot of a business that had a burglar alarm call. Lopez was released a day later, and no criminal charges were filed, according to Phoenix police.
“After that, he was like, ‘No, stay away from me,’” Evangelina Rodriguez – his girlfriend and the mother of his kids – told ABC15. “He always said that the cops are going to kill me.” She added, “I just feel like they could’ve done something, and I just feel like they cheated my kids of their dad.”
The police officers called in a code 237 used describe illegal drugs, according to the police report, which they attributed to his erratic behavior but according to his family he suffered from anxiety. Lopez’s mother told The Republic that he experienced intense anxiety and had been seeing doctors, but hadn’t received a diagnosis for any mental disorders. However Rodriguez told ABC15 that he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
The autopsy and toxicology reports are still pending and a Phoenix police spokeswoman told ABC15 that Lopez did not have any drugs or weapons on him.