PHOENIX, AZ — A 44-year-old man climbed onto the roof of his apartment and began acting strangely. Police arrived to help him down, but instead ended up killing him with a series of offensive maneuvers including tasing him while in a choke-hold, and finally dragging his lifeless body down a staircase, with his skull banging against every step.
Michael Angel Ruiz is the son of a retired LAPD detective and had a history of drug addiction. On July 28, for reasons unknown, he climbed onto the roof of his apartment. Witnesses called the police to protect his safety. This turned out to have been a fatal decision.
Ruiz, while he may not have been sober, was not acting aggressively towards anyone. Police attempted to get him to come down without success. They resorted to tasing him on the roof, a violation of Phoenix Police Department’s own department policy against using a stun gun on someone who is in danger of falling, reported Sara Goldenberg of ABC 15 Arizona. Witnesses say that police tased him several times on the rooftop.
After sustaining electric shocks from police, Ruiz complied with requests to come off the roof. Video taken by witnesses shows him hopping down to a balcony. An unidentified Phoenix police officer immediately greeted him with a choke-hold. Police used overwhelming force on the man, who had still shown no signs of aggression. Witness Gary Carthen told ABC 15 that Ruiz was “getting choked out and tased at the same time.” He remained in a choke-hold for at least three minutes, reported KPHO.
The most disturbing moments were to come. Michael Ruiz, now fully restrained, was dragged down the concrete stairs on his face. As deputies held his arms behind his back, they allowed his head to dangle and thump against every stair. At this point Ruiz may have already lost consciousness, and was making no attempt to lift his head. Video shows him lifelessly suffering head trauma on the descent down the stair case.
“I just felt sick to my stomach,” said Richard Erickson, the man’s father, to ABC 15. “I’d never seen anything like this before, even when I was with the police department.”
Ruiz had to be resuscitated at the scene, but was determined to be brain-dead at the hospital, according to KPHO. His family took him off of life-support on August 2.
Witness Verna Young said she could audibly hear the thumps of his face against the stairs. “I started crying ’cause that’s not right, to hurt nobody like that,” she said. “He didn’t deserve that. He was a nice person, very nice.”
“I miss him a lot. He was a good man,” said Michael’s father. Ruiz left behind 2 children and a wife.
Phoenix Police are remaining tight-lipped about their treatment of Michael Ruiz and an “administrative investigation” will commence.
Video coverage of the incident can be viewed here.
Give the city of Phoenix some feedback on the incident at the following locations:
Phoenix City Hall