Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Deadly Abuse in Sheriff Joe's Jail

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The ink was barely dry on the U.S. Department of Justice's stinging rebuke of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's law enforcement outrages when another tragedy occurred at one of his jails.  It is the type of story that keeps coming out of Phoenix with mind-numbing regularity.

Ernest  “Marty” Atencio, aged 44, is lying near death at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.   He is being kept alive by machines until his family completes their heart-wrenching good-byes.  The family, in fact, is already speaking of their loved one in the past tense, stating that he was murdered  by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Marty Atencio served his nation proudly in the Gulf War, but his service left him with some mental disabilities that continued to plague the veteran in later years.  Late last week Marty was arrested in Phoenix on an assault charge, and while he was being booked at Joe Arpaio’s infamous 4th Street Jail,  he became agitated to the point where Sheriff’s deputies felt the need to taze him.  According to local news reports, it appears to have been a particularly brutal tazing that was followed by deputies placing him in a “safe” cell.  Atencio was left alone, unobserved for fifteen minutes.  When the deputies finally came back to check on him, he was not breathing and had no pulse.

Family members noted that Atencio had been in the 4th Street Jail before, and his mental disability should have been a matter of record at the jail – which would have perhaps given rise to a more humane form of treatment.

After jail personnel belatedly reengaged with Marty Atencio, he was given CPR and transferred to the hospital.  The medical attention was too little and too late.

Mike Atencio, the victim’s brother, updated the press on his brother’s condition.   “(Marty) is hanging on by a thread, machines are the only thing keeping him alive.” 

Family members will make the decision to unplug those machines in a few days and Marty Atencio will slip quietly from this life.  He will be gone, but not forgotten.  His family will bring suit against the government of Maricopa County and at some point a judge or a jury will agree with their claims of criminal mistreatment of their relative, and the county will pay out a large settlement to atone for the abuses of Joe Arpaio and his staff – as the county has had to do so often in the past.

Will the taxpayers of Maricopa County ever tire of bailing out the sheriff’s office?  Will they ever say that enough is enough?  Will they ever give their reality television star the boot and replace him with a law enforcement professional?

Mike Atencio makes no bones about who he holds responsible for the impending death of his brother.  “The sheriff’s office murdered my brother.  That’s what I want to get out to the public right now."

It is not the first time that an aggrieved relative has lobbed that charge at Joe and his overzealous deputies, and, sadly, it is unlikely to be the last.  The carnage will continue as long as the voters stay blinded to the reality of the brutality and keep fawning over their infamous sheriff.

Too much is too much!   Sheriff Joe needs to go!

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