Phoenix, AZ -- It’s a no brainer, really. No suspect should ever be held onto hot asphalt during the four hottest months of summer in Phoenix, Arizona, where pavement temps can reach 160 degrees. And now, yet again, another valley family is demanding answers after their loved one, Ramon Timothy Lopez, later died following a violent arrest which included being held onto scorching hot pavement.
On August 4, Phoenix PD responded to a 911 call about a suspicious man who was looking into vehicles outside a liquor store in the Maryvale area near 51st avenue and Indian School Rd. When an officer arrived Lopez reportedly ran away from the officer into the store, reportedly throwing a drink at the officer as he fled. That officer who has yet to be identified, apprehended Lopez, slamming him to the ground in the street, and held him there until backup arrived.
Predictably, Phoenix PD spokesperson Sgt. Mercedes Fortune defended the officers’ actions saying, “Officers did not place their knee(s) on Ramon's neck and at no time was his airway obstructed.” The statement sidestepped the obvious scalding potential of the hot pavement and alluded to the alleged murder carried out against George Floyd of Minneapolis, MN in May of this year.
The eyewitness, who wishes to remain anonymous recorded at least 20 seconds of video showing Lopez being taken into custody. She, however, was very aware of how hot the pavement was and stated she believed the alleged resisting of arrest was due to the intense temperature of the pavement.
"[I] felt he was using a lot of force to slam his body into the ground....The gentleman [Mr. Lopez] 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," she said.
You’d have to be a complete lunatic to be an officer for the Phoenix PD and not know exactly how hot the pavement is during the summer months. Another victim of police brutality in the Phoenix area is Marc LeBeau. LeBeau was also held on hot Phoenix pavement by a DPS officer in July of 2016.
The department’s spin machine accused LeBeau in a press conference of being on drugs when he allegedly resisted arrest while being held on the searing pavement and praised the assistance of a Good Samaritan who stopped to help the officer.
In an exclusive interview with LeBeau, we learned the pavement was 160 degrees and he received 2nd and 3rd degree burns over large portions of his body after only a few moments being held down. LeBeau was exonerated of all the charges against him and won a civil suit in court totaling nearly $30 thousand dollars for the injuries he sustained while barefoot and wearing minimal clothing after getting stopped and arrested for criminal speeding.
Sadly, Lopez will not have that same opportunity.
Following his discharge from the hospital, LeBeau returned to the scene of the crime and filmed the temperature of the pavement using a laser thermometer. He even cooked food on the pavement to show how hot Phoenix asphalt gets in the daytime when temperatures can reach 120 degrees.
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Fortune explained, like LeBeau, Mr. Lopez was resisting arrest. In an email to Phoenix’ ABC15, Fortune explained further, again making no mention of the intense heat of the pavement:
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...Ramon refused to cooperate and continued to kick and pull away from officers.
The witness also stated Mr. Lopez was struggling with officers, all the while attempting to keep from being burned alive apparently.
He did have his left knee in the midst of his back and shoulders...[The officer] had [Ramon's] arms pressed against the tops of his shoulders and his legs were actually on his hand, so at that point, [Ramon] was restrained, and [the officer] was still put in quite a bit of force...
She also stated she called Phoenix PD and spoke with a sergeant to report the brutality she witnessed. She said he didn’t seem alarmed by the incident.
He let me know he reviewed the body cam and didn't see anything that I was reporting...At that point, he couldn't really help me with anything, and it wasn’t, you know, his department.
Lopez was placed into the back of a police vehicle, became unresponsive, and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Fortune says it is too soon to speculate as to what actually caused his death. The medical examiner’s report has not yet been made available to the public.
However, in our opinion here at TFTP, it doesn’t take a medical degree to know holding people onto scorching hot Sonoran Desert pavement can lead to serious injuries including death.
The Phoenix PD says it will be releasing body camera footage of the incident next week. Raymon Timothy Lopez was a truck driver and father of two children, one a newborn.
Below is that disturbing video.