STAFF EDITORIAL: Radford’s police failed Lobo-Perez

Staff Editorial

The unexpected death of a college student could have been avoided had the police taken him to a hospital for being intoxicated instead of placing him in a cell. 

Eighteen-year-old Aris Lobo-Perez was attending Radford University in Culpeper, Virginia when he was arrested on Sept. 11 by campus police on a charge for public intoxication or swearing, according to The Washington Post. This was just after a Snapchat video showed an unsteady Lobo-Perez slurring his speech into his recording camera.

He died in his jail cell the next morning.

According to The Washington Post, the toxicology report still hasn’t been released, and a reason for death is not reported in the autopsy.

Radford University said under normal circumstances intoxicated students on campus can be released into the care of a reliable adult.

In a statement, Radford University said: “There has to be a responsible, sober adult that can care for a person under the influence for this to be considered a viable option. If there is no such person, who can supervise them until they are no longer intoxicated, they will be arrested in accordance with Virginia [law] and transported to the New River Valley Regional Jail and held until no longer intoxicated.”

The Washington Post reported the campus police are investigating Lobo-Perez’s “suspected recreational drug use,” which includes what he may have taken on the night of his arrest. 

Many people, including members of Lobo-Perez’s family, say he should have been taken to the hospital immediately following his arrest because he showed what they believed were concerning symptoms.

Two students told The Washington Post they saw Lobo-Perez was foaming at the mouth at the time of his arrest, but the school rejected their accounts, saying the Radford University Police Department did not observe any foaming of the mouth.

As it stands, it has been almost two months since Lobo-Perez’s tragic death and the university and its campus police still sing the same tune.

The fact that two student witnesses to the arrest say Lobo-Perez was foaming at the mouth is concerning because the school’s police officers say they did not see that and the university said there was no clear cause for concern. 

We also still don’t know what substances were in his system because a toxicology report hasn’t been completed, and there is no cause for death in the autopsy.

Besides those issues, the question remains: Why wasn’t Lobo-Perez just taken to the hospital?

We at The Daily Eastern News believe Lobo-Perez’s death was unnecessary, and the police officials and university’s judgement in this case is so incredibly poor.

It is the job of any university police department to keep its students safe. A seriously intoxicated student, or a student under the influence of any substance, should be taken to the hospital. That’s Eastern’s policy, and we urge Radford University to adopt it and own up to the failure of its campus police.

The Editorial Staff can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].