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TPOA calls out council member over social media post; Santa Cruz responds

Posted at 10:16 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-27 01:16:33-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Tucson Police Officer's Association is speaking out about the controversy surrounding an in-custody death in April.

They're calling out Ward One council member Lane Santa Cruz, and a staff member, over social media posts.

Before the public saw the body cam video of the in-custody restraint and death council member Lane Santa Cruz and a staff member took to Facebook to post their reactions.

"The union has been mostly silent and letting the process take its course," said T.P.O.A's attorney Mike Storie, who also represents the three officers involved in the death. "But when this sort of discourse... this inflammatory nonsense started coming out, we had to stand up and say enough's enough."

Storie's talking about some of the wording in the posts:

  • "Death... at the hands of police officers."
  • "horrible incident of police violence"
  • "TPD hid a murder."

"What really highlights the irresponsibility of this - they had custody of this video before any citizens of Tucson who are relying on them to honestly report what's on the video," Storie said.

The union said the public should have seen the video first, because of the potential for volatile conflicts like the nation saw following the George Floyd case.

Santa Cruz stands by her statements.

"They used force. They literally used their hands on top of this young man, Adrian, down in his most vulnerable state and used deadly force because at the end of the day Adrian life was taken from him," Santa Cruz said.

When asked if she considers this case on the same level of the George Floyd case Santa Cruz said "I think the way that they responded and how they got called were very different. I think the outcome was the same."

It's a post by a Ward One employee that is the union's main point of contention.

Andres Portella, the Policy and Community Development adviser for Santa Cruz's office wrote in a personal Facebook post "TPD hid a murder."

"It's incredible to be reading this type of thing on so many levels," Storie said. "There's no murder."

In response, Santa Cruz said "My staff just like all of us you know have First Amendment rights and I'm not going to police what my staff puts out in their personal social media. It's not an official statement of the Ward 1 Office."

KGUN 9 asked if she was okay with what that staff member wrote.

"I am saying okay with people exercising their first amendment rights," Santa Cruz said. "On his personal social media I do not police what staff puts out."

Valerie Cavazos: "Do you think it was murder?"
Santa Cruz: "I think that he was killed."
Cavazos: "Yes or no, do you think he was murdered?"
Santa Cruz: "I think he was killed."