RADFORD—Radford University released the police report about the incident that led to a freshman being arrested last September before being found dead in his jail cell early the next morning.
Aris Eduardo Lobo-Perez, 18, of Culpeper, was arrested just before midnight on Sept. 11, 2019, for public intoxication at the Muse Hall dormitory after campus police received a call about a “potentially intoxicated individual,” according to the police report filled out by campus police officer Emily Stike.
The officers arrived at Muse and spoke with the resident advisor on duty who said she observed Lobo-Perez staggering when he entered the building and that he had bloodshot eyes, according to the report.
Officers then accompanied the RA to the fifth floor where Lobo-Perez was found in a room that was not his—according to witnesses at the scene—with an alcoholic beverage next to him, according to the report.
Stike wrote that when she escorted him into the hallway, Lobo-Perez, “was unsteady on his feet, had bloodshot eyes and had the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from about his person.”
Lobo-Perez admitted to having consumed multiple alcoholic beverages that night and confirmed that the room the officers found him in was not his, but a friend’s, according to the report.
One of the residents of the room arrived and told police Lobo-Perez sometimes came by, but he was not supposed to be there that night, nor did the person give Lobo-Perez permission to bring alcohol into his dorm room, the report said.
The sports management major was subsequently arrested and a small amount of a green “plant-like material” was found in his pocket, the report continues.
Stike wrote that Lobo-Perez was then placed under arrest and taken to the New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin.
Lobo-Perez spent the night at the facility where he died the next morning shortly after jail personnel offered him breakfast. He was discovered unresponsive, and attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, authorities said.
The regional jail referred the case to the state so an outside investigation could take place.
No wrongdoing was found to have occurred, and it was determined that Lobo-Perez died from a combination of an opioid overdose and asthma, according to a state medical examiner’s office review.
A protest held Saturday by New River Workers Power criticizing how Lobo-Perez’s arrest was handled by campus police led The Roanoke Times to ask for the police report again after having been previously denied by the university last fall, “due to an on-going investigation by the Virginia State Police,” according to university officials. The investigation has since concluded, finding no wrongdoing by jail staff .
Protesters and Lobo-Perez’s mother, Dixiana Perez, were critical of how university police’s actions, stating that he should have received medical treatment before being taken to jail.
University officials have maintained since the incident occurred that law enforcement followed the proper procedures during Lobo-Perez’s arrest.
Officials have stated that Lobo-Perez did not appear to need medical attention and was able to walk to the police car.
Dixiana Perez also questions why police did not have access to her son’s medical forms required before students enter RU. She said they would have seen Lobo-Perez had severe asthma that required him to take medication and to always have his inhaler with him.
University spokeswoman Caitlyn Scaggs wrote in an email: “The Radford University Police Department does not have access to a student’s medical record due to HIPPA or a student’s educational record due to FERPA. It would be a federal violation of a student’s privacy and rights if this information was provided to the Police Department or other campus-based offices.”
Scaggs also wrote that Lobo-Perez did not mention his inhaler at the time of his arrest, and jail Superintendent Greg Winston told The Roanoke Times that Lobo-Perez did not have an inhaler when he arrived there.
When asked if it is normal for all students found intoxicated on campus to be taken to jail, Scaggs wrote that “each situation is different.”
Scaggs continued, “Underage possession of alcohol, specifically alcohol within a container, would likely be a conduct referral as opposed to an arrest, as holding a container of alcohol, but not being intoxicated or under the influence, does not pose an immediate threat to the well-being of the person or those around them. There are limited situations in which a person would not be arrested, but would be released into the care of another individual and issued a conduct referral. There has to be a responsible, sober adult who can care for a person under the influence for this to be considered as 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 Code.”
The approximately 30 protesters who met Saturday in front of Martin Hall—which houses President Brian Hemphill’s office—requested that the university adopt a “care not incarcerate” policy, so no students would face the same outcome as Lobo-Perez.
The group also asked for an independent investigation into how police handled the matter and any video footage of the incident.
University officials said the footage has already been released through the family’s attorney.
Perez said she has not seen the footage.
No university officials attended Saturday’s demonstration.
Scaggs was asked whether the college would consider modifying its policy on students found to be intoxicated on campus.
“As a student-centered institution, Radford University is always striving to provide the best experience for our students and close connection for their families. The concept of enhanced engagement and increased support is at the center of everything we do as a Radford family. It is important to note that, as previously stated, the University followed all policies and procedures in this situation.”