STINSON MORRISON - WorldNow

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Transcript of STINSON MORRISON - WorldNow

Sheriff Joseph Arpaio Fran McCarroll, Clerk MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
100 W. Washington Street, Suite 1900 301 W. Jefferson Street, 10 th Floor Phoenix, AZ 85003 Phoenix, AZ 85003
Thomas J. Tegeler, Director Maricopa County Correctional Health Services MARICOPA COUNTY CORRECT/ONAL Employees: Ian Cranmer, Monica Scarpati HEALTH SERVICES 234 N . Central Ave., Suite 5000 234 N. Central Ave., Suite 5000 Phoenix, AZ 85004 Phoenix, AZ 85004
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Former Maricopa County Correctional Health Employees: Jaime Carrasco, Adrian Services Employee: Bill McLean Dominguez, Christopher Foster, (residential address redacted) Anthony Hatton, Craig Kaiser, Anthony Scheffner, Jose Vazquez, Jason Weiers, Arnie Williams 100 W. Washington Street, Suite 1900 Phoenix, AZ 85003
Re: NOTICE OF CLAIM - Death of Ernest M. Atencio
One day before the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio and his Maricopa County Sheriff's Office ("MCSO"), our Sheriff issued an 18 page glossy PR piece entitled "Integrity, Accountability, Community." He included a press statement proclaiming: "We at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office do not foster a 'culture of cruelty.'"I All but his most
I The Sheriff's "culture of cruelty" in our jails was carefully crafted over his years. While his design was obviously inhumane, ignoble, and unconstitutional, he knew it made for effective electioneering and plenty of press pandering. Early in his tirst term as Sheriff, he authored a Newsletter and press statements which announced to his DOs that he wanted to be America's "meanest Sheriff" and for his jails to be "very bad jails" and "places of punishment." Roundup Newsletter, Jan. 1995 p. 4; Arizona Daily Star, March 19, 1995 p. 1.B; Philadelphia Enquirer Magazine, June 18, 1995 p. 2 J; Sheriff Arpaio Trial Testimony, May 2, 2007 p. 2. Sheriff Arpaio frequently boasted that he spent more to feed and air­ condition his dogs than he did on pre-trial detainees. Then, over the following years, dozens of DOs who wrongfully injured or killed vulnerable detainees were not disciplined or tired - they were actually promoted! The combination of his "very bad jail" pronouncements, his public chortles about inflicting
stinson.com
1850 N. Central Avenue. Suite 2100 Phoenix, AZ 85004-4584 602.279.1600 MAIN
Kansas City I SI. Louis I Jefferson Cily I Overland Park IWichila I Omaha IWashington D.C. I Phoenix 602.240.6925 FAX
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ardent acolytes dismissed this as a Faustian farce. Given the gruesome and expensive history of gratuitous assaults on and deaths of vulnerable detainees by MCSO Detention Officers (“DOs”) over the past 15 years, the press release was obviously aspirational at best, and not a reflection of our Sheriff’s deliberate and historical fosterings.
Naturally, the MCSO’s PR release ignored any mention of the MCSO culture which, only six months earlier, presaged the tortuous death of Ernest Marty Atencio (“Marty”), a medically vulnerable Veteran, Father, son, and brother.
Marty’s encounter with law enforcement did not start out as lethal. In fact, Marty was arrested by two caring, compassionate, and professional Phoenix Police Department Officers. While he was medically impaired, he was not violent, combative, or resistive. The Officers did not think Marty was drunk or high on illicit drugs. The Officers believed he was medically/mentally impaired, and they expected Marty would be booked into jail and that the MCSO would get Marty the medical help he so obviously needed.
But, once in MCSO’s jail “matrix,” Marty’s odds of getting professional detention treatment and basic medical help were quite slim. He had too much working against him: he was medically impaired, he was brought in during the graveyard shift, he was Latino, he was confused, and he asked the DOs not to laugh at him. In short, Marty was too vulnerable. Almost immediately, the Sheriff’s DOs mocked Marty, laughed at him, bullied him, and made Marty clown for them. Once their humiliation and sport with Marty ended, he was uncuffed, the DOs beat Marty, electrocuted him too near his heart with their Taser gun, he was stripped naked, then the DOs beat him a little more, until he died in their “Safe Cell.” Once the jailers’ riot was over, Marty drew his last breath as the DOs laughed and danced just outside the door of Marty’s “Safe Cell.”
The Sheriff’s glossy 18 page PR piece featured color pictures of MCSO staff posing with caring smiles, and the assuring words “Integrity, Accountability, Community” adorned each pleasing page. In stark contrast to the pure fiction promoted in the Sheriff’s PR piece are the real-life pictures shown below, which establish the ugly reality of Marty’s unprovoked, tortuous/horrific treatment, and death at the hands of jovial DOs, who were sure they were advancing the “very bad jail” culture their toughest and meanest Sheriff coveted – DO promotions may soon ensue.
This letter constitutes a Notice of Claim by: The Estate of Ernest M. Atencio; Marty’s parents Ernest Joseph (“Joe”) and Rosemary; and Marty’s three sons, Josh, Joseph, and Marty. Their claims arise from the fatal injuries inflicted upon Marty by these DOs, and from the gross negligence and failure to provide medical care by members of Maricopa County’s Correctional Health Services (“CHS”) who evaluated Marty both before and after he was mocked, teased, beaten, stripped, and electrocuted.
discomfort on detainees while pampering his dogs, and these promotions of DOs responsible for wrongful deaths was sure to create the culture he needed to heat the air that would inflate his “Toughest Sheriff in America” balloon.
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The facts presented in this Notice of Claim are derived primarily from interviews taken by members of the MCSO’s General Investigations Division. Despite a Public Records Request issued pursuant to A.R.S. § 39–121 et seq., Maricopa County has not released all of the records in its possession related to Marty’s lethal experience with County employees.2 If additional records are received, they will likely provide greater detail about the claims made herein and may reveal wrongdoing of additional County employees, who are currently unidentified but may have been involved in the acts which are the subject of this claim. Upon the discovery of such information, this Notice of Claim may be amended to put the County on notice of such additional claims.
County Employees Recognized Marty Was A Vulnerable Veteran And Exploited Him For Sport And For Their Own Amusement
Marty was a Veteran of the United States Army. His family has a proud history of service in the United States military. Marty’s son, Joshua, is currently serving in the National Guard. Marty’s Father, Joe, his Uncles Samuel and Earl, and his Great Uncle Steve, all served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Marty’s Great Uncle Ismael died serving his country in the Korean war. Marty’s Grandfather Joe, and Great Uncles Ben and Albert, served in the Army during World War II. Albert was killed in action in World War II.
Unfortunately, after his discharge from service, Marty was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.3 While he was generally able to control his outward symptoms with medication, he was unable to do so on December 16, 2011. On that day, MCSO DOs recognized Marty’s illness and his vulnerability. In interviews, they stated:
“I assume[d] . . . [he] was a yahoo.”4
“He’s like deliriously talking about nothing that makes sense. It would be like if I was like sitting there going, rabbit ears, ahhh Tony the Tiger. Just craziness.”5
“[H]e he was like talking to just crazy stuff.”6
“He’s banging on the thing and shouting out, yahooooooo and we we’re kind of just like this guy is out of his mind, off his rocker . . . .”7
2 The Atencio family have already had to file one Special Action, in Superior Court, as a result of the County’s failure to comply with Arizona public records law in connection with this claim. The County avoided sanctions and settled that matter by turning over the requested records and paying the family’s attorneys’ fees. 3 Report of Autopsy, May 30, 2011, p.3. 4 Interview of Blas Gabriel, December 16, 2011, p. 3. 5 Interview of Dawn Kocur, December 16, 2011, p. 3. 6 Id. 7 Id.
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“I asked what his dealings was and Phoenix was telling me that he was talking about some peanut butter on the floor and some jacket that he threw or something like that and, uh, he was acting really, I don’t know what the word is, I guess, crazy.”8
“Well, I thought he was, uh, uh, he had mental problems like crazy, you know, like something like that, that’s what I thought.”9
“And hmm, he was talking there and hmm, he kept yelling out the doors, don’t laugh, don’t laugh.”10
“Actually, I kind of followed this guy through the process. He kind of had some trouble throughout the ordeal.”11
“His behavior was really erratic.”12
“[H]e just appeared psychotic.”13
Upon entering the jail, Marty was “assessed” by CHS employee Monica Scarpati, who told investigators that she was a “mental health professional,”14 as well as Registered Nurse Bill McLean. According to Ms. Scarpati, she had a “very brief” interaction with Marty in which she recognized he “appeared psychotic” based on his “word salad.”15 She admitted that she did not complete a full assessment of Marty and sent him to an isolation cell.16 Ms. Scarpati and RN McLean fell below the applicable standard of care by, in RN McLean’s words, “accept[ing]” Marty into the jail and not doing anything to make sure that Marty got the immediate medical attention that he so obviously needed and deserved.17
Recognizing Marty’s vulnerability, the DOs made the most of their opportunity to make fun of him and bully Marty. After Marty was brought into the jail, his Mug Shot was taken. One person described this process as follows:
While Marty was having his mug shot taken, the guards were taunting him, telling him to “turn left,” “turn right,” and making fun of Marty’s inability to follow instructions. As the guards made fun of Marty, they encouraged him to make funny faces and the photographer, a female detention officer, kept saying “let’s make this one the Mug Shot of the
8 Interview of Anthony Scheffner, December 16, 2012, p. 5. 9 Interview of Jose Vazquez, December 16, 2011, p. 18. 10 Interview of Vanessa Turner, December, 2011, p. 2. 11 Interview of Jason Weiers, December 16, 2011, p. 1. 12 Interview of Kendric Williams, December 16, 2011, p. 3. 13 Interview of Monica Scarpati, December 17, 2011, p. 3. 14 Id. 15 Id. 16 Id. 17 Interview of William McLean, December 17, 2011.
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week.” After they took his Mug Shot, the detention officers brought Marty back to the holding tank.18
An MCSO Lieutenant stated in an interview that the process of taking Marty’s photo was, “ah you know, its kinda comical.”19
Indeed, the DOs got their comical and humiliating picture of Marty and MCSO press flacks ensured that his humiliation was republished throughout the country by both print and electronic media. In stark contrast to the photographs of Marty that the Atencio family cherishes, such as these,
the family is routinely reminded of the Mug Shot released by the County, which appears routinely in the media:
18 Affidavit of Mathew S. Layman, January 24, 2012. 19 Interview of Craig Kaiser, December 16, 2011, p. 12.
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After Mocking Marty – County Employees Turned Violent And Deadly
After making Marty mug for his Mug Shot, he was brought into a room identified by MCSO video recordings as the Linescan Room. While in the Linescan Room, Marty’s fingerprints were taken. Marty was then backed into a corner, where his handcuffs were removed. Marty had not been aggressive, combative, or resistant at any point, so the MCSO and Phoenix Police personnel felt safe and comfortable enough to remove Marty’s handcuffs. Both County employees and Phoenix PD Officers consistently told investigators that, despite not making sense, Marty was never threatening, aggressive, or combative. They stated:
“He got loud, but he wasn’t being combative.”20
“[H]e was being funny . . . nothing serious, nothing that I would call uncooperative.”21
“[Marty was] making noise, whatever, talking crazy stuff, like, not even like I’m going to kill you, like normal people that are angry are like screaming, I’m going to kill you, he was like talking to just crazy stuff.”22
“[Marty] wasn’t saying anything like, I want to kill you, like I’ve heard other people say. He was not being like that.”23
“Nothing like, f-u (laughs), no, nothing you could even be like, oh this guy is angry.”24
“He’s a happy guy.”25
Nevertheless, Marty was suddenly surrounded by no less than nine law enforcement officers. There was no provocation or threat by Marty but it appeared that the Officers were pining for a fight:
20 Interview of Anthony Hatton, December 16, 2011, p. 14. 21 Id. 22 Interview of Dawn Kocur, December 16, 2011, p. 4. 23 Id.. 24 Id. 25 Id.
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When asked to take off his shoes, which were to be put through a scanner with his clothes, Marty removed his right shoe pursuant to the Officers’ instructions. When asked to remove his left shoe, Marty, according to the Officers, refused to do so.26
What happened next was the shocking commencement of the jailers’ riot that would kill Marty. Phoenix PD Officers and MCSO DOs decided to get physical with Marty. Only after that assault was started by the Officers and DOs did Marty attempt to physically defend himself. The jailers’ riot that would take the life of this Veteran, Father, son, and brother was needlessly instigated by the Officers and DOs. According to one Sergeant from the MCSO, as well as others, “the best way to describe” what happened next was that a group of law enforcement officers formed a “dog pile” on top of Marty.27 Pictures from the jail’s cameras show a mass of individuals assaulting Marty:
26 The “justification” for their assault on Marty is not credible. Earlier, at the City of Phoenix Central Booking Station, without any difficulty or incident, two other caring and professional Phoenix PD Officers talked Marty into removing both of his shoes. 27 Interview of Anthony Scheffner, December 16, p. 13.
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During the brutality shown above, DOs Carrasco, Dominguez, Foster, Kaiser, and Vazquez held Marty down, while MCSO Sergeant Weiers continuously electrocuted Marty with his Taser, too near to Marty’s heart. One of the witnesses to this brutality stated, “Marty was screaming in pain, in a deep voice.”28 A woman, who told the witness that she works in a medical office said, “if they tase him anymore, they are going to kill him.”29 After the tasing stopped, the punching began. DO Hatton struck Marty in the face, with a closed fist, multiple times. One DO told investigators, “when I saw [Hatton] hitting [Marty] 3 or 4 times, I patted him on the back, like calm down . . . . I think it was just excessive.”30 That same DO told investigators that “if Hatton ever said that he acted in self-defense,” that would be a “lie.”31 Lt. Williams, a
28 Affidavit of Mathew S. Layman, January 24, 2012. 29 Id. 30 Interview of Sergio Salinas, December 17, 2011, pp. 1, 5. 31 Id.
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supervisor, “wandered [in] to check and see what was going on” and “saw a huge pile of bodies,” but did nothing to stop what followed.32
Before they left the Linescan Room, RN McLean and Physician Assistant Ian Cranmer evaluated Marty’s wounds. Rather than recognizing the extreme danger resulting from the beating and the electrocution too close to Marty’s heart, they failed to meet the applicable standard of care, and did nothing to ensure that Marty was medically stable.
After the DOs tortured Marty in the Linescan Room, they restrained Marty and carried him off to their “Safe Cell 4.” There, the brutality continued. While Sergeant Weiers looked on, DOs Foster, Carrasco, Vazquez, Hatton, and Dominguez held Marty down while Hatton went after Marty again. This time, he struck Marty several times with his knee. A DO told investigators that Hatton’s behavior outraged him so much that he “yelled out” Hatton’s name with a “tone and sternness” that made it clear to Hatton to stop the brutality because he “didn’t think that was necessary.”33
The DOs stripped Marty naked and left him to die in their “Safe Cell 4.” P.A. Cranmer told interviewers that, upon the DOs’ exit, he “looked over into the cell [and] the patient moved his left arm and breathed.”34 P.A. Cranmer’s after-the-fact justification for failing to make any effort to assess him, simply leaving Marty alone, and not providing him with any medical help, is belied by the video of the incident. Indeed, when another CHS employee brought to P.A. Cranmer’s attention the fact that Marty was not breathing, he shrugged her off and said “yea, he is, he’s just intoxicated, he’s okay, they tased him, he’s alright.”35 It was beyond dispute, however, that Marty was not intoxicated and he was not “alright;” they just watched as Marty lay dying.
While Marty’s life was slipping away in their “Safe Cell,” MCSO and CHS personnel took a moment to joke and laugh about the events that had just transpired. Indeed, the jail’s surveillance video outside “Safe Cell 4” shows Hatton, with a smile on his face, talking to other Officers, while two women, who are believed to be Ms. Scarpati and Lt. Williams, dance and bump their butts together, and another female CHS worker, as well as another DO, indifferently watch their antics:
32 Interview of Amie Williams, December, 2011. 33 Interview of Blas Gabriel, December 16, 2011, p. 10. 34 Interview of Ian Cranmer, December 16, 2011, p.3. 35 Interview of Pam Kurczynski, December 12, 2011, p. 1.
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It was just another festive Christmas Season night in Sheriff Joe’s “very bad jail.”
Nine minutes after Marty was left alone in their “Safe Cell,” MCSO and CHS employees found him in cardiac and respiratory arrest. Although doctors were able to restart Marty’s heart 35 minutes later in an Emergency Rom, there is no question that Marty is yet another victim who needlessly and unnecessarily died in the MCSO’s jail.
Although Marty’s heart was re-started, he never regained consciousness but was kept alive for four days. When the doctors confirmed that Marty had no brain activity, he was removed from the artificial life support.
The Medical Examiner’s Attempt To Shield The County From Liability
A.R.S. § 11-594(A)(2) requires the County Medical Examiner to “promptly make a full report” as “to the cause and manner of death following completion of [a] death investigation.” Further, A.R.S. § 11-594(A)(6) requires the County’s Medical Examiner to “[n]otify the county attorney or other law enforcement authority when death is found to be from other than natural causes.” On May 31, 2012, almost six months after Marty’s death, and after an investigation that included, according to the Medical Examiner, the review of “1000+ pages of medical records from the VA and St. Joseph’s Hospital,” the County’s Medical Examiner issued its Report of Autopsy. The report concludes that Marty “died of complications of sudden cardiac arrest that occurred in the setting of acute psychosis, law enforcement subdual, and multiple medical problems. It is further my opinion that the manner of death is undetermined.”
The Medical Examiner’s report is part science and part defensive double-speak designed to deflect and limit the…