PHOENIX — The family of a prisoner who died in one of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging officers beat the mentally ill man and shot him with a stun gun in an unprovoked attack that marked another example of the "culture of cruelty" in the lockups.He was mentally ill and they dog piled him. I had no idea refusing to take off a shoe was a murder-worthy offense. I now understand the gravity of such an order. Too bad Atencio was unable to understand the trouble he was in. Or perhaps he did, and simply couldn't do anything about it.
The suit states the 44-year-old Atencio had an altercation with Phoenix police and jail officers while he was being booked on an assault charge on Dec. 15. He was found unresponsive and died five days later, after his family took him off life support.
The sheriff's office said last year that Atencio was combative when police brought him into the downtown jail, and he was placed in a "safe cell" to calm down after fighting with deputies.
The agency said Atencio was found unresponsive 15 minutes later, even though he was being monitored by medical staff.
The lawsuit, however, painted a picture of teasing and abuse at the hands of officers who made fun of Atencio's inability to follow directions and encouraged him to make funny faces while his mug shot was taken.
One officer allegedly said authorities should make it the "Mug Shot of the Week," referring to the sheriff's online contest in which people can vote on their favorite booking photo.
Atencio was attacked later by two Phoenix police officers after he refused to take off one of his shoes in a holding tank, the lawsuit states, adding that some of Arpaio's jail officers joined in and formed a "dog pile" atop the prisoner.
By the way, since 1993 the county has paid over $24 million has been paid out in claims. Imagine how many claims fell through the cracks over the years, especially before the full extent of their barbaric treatment was known. But nah, just another person dying for no reason. There's nothing to see here, Citizen. Please move along in an orderly fashion.