ABC 15 reported Tuesday that Phoenix police killed a man while attempting to “help” him off a roof.
According to the report, officers used a stun gun several times on 44 year-old Michael Angel Ruiz. They proceeded to put him in a choke hold and drag him down the stairs.
While being dragged, Ruiz’s head struck each step on the way down. His head hit the steps so hard a witness reported hearing the blows and says she cried because “that’s not right, to hurt nobody like that.”
Soon after his run-in with the police, Ruiz died, according to ABC 15.
It’s not clear why Ruiz was on the roof in the first place, although he allegedly had drug problems. Still, whether he was high and acting irrationally or was completely sober, it doesn’t appear he used violence at any point. And, as he was unarmed with multiple officers on the scene, it’s highly unlikely the police had any legitimate reason to treat him so roughly.
Ruiz’s father, a former detective, has hired an attorney and called for the officers to be terminated. However, it may be worthwhile to press for a manslaughter trial.
According to FindLaw, three conditions must be met to convict someone of involuntary manslaughter:
- Someone was killed as a result of an act by the defendant.
- The act either was inherently dangerous to others or done with reckless disregard for human life.
- The defendant knew or should have known his or her conduct was a threat to the lives of others.
Let’s examine these points as they pertain to this case:
- Ruiz died as a result of actions taken by the police
- His head hit each step, thereby making his dragging a reckless disregard for human life
- Any reasonable person would realize using a stun gun multiple times, choking and dragging a man down a flight of stairs would endanger his life
Whether they’re ultimately tried for manslaughter or receive a slap on the wrist, this case represents yet another sad example of police brutality. Let’s hope Phoenix residents see to it these officers are served with some form of justice.