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Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Pays $24 Million Dollars in Lawsuits for Inmate Brutality and Wrongful Death

Family of deceased mentally ill inmate files new lawsuit for $20 Million by family for death of mentally ill inmate, Ernest Atencio who died in December 2011.

The lawsuit names multiple entities in the law suit including MCSO, Phoenix Police Department, and other individuals they feel are accountable for his wrongful death.

The lawsuit alleges that multiple officers beat the inmate; shot him with a stun without provocation; humiliated him by mocking his mug shot along with other allegations.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has reportedly paid out $24 million dollars in law suit settlements or damages for wrongful death or serious injury resulting from allegations of neglect, abuse, brutality, constitutional right violations, and other abuse of power against detainees.

Complaints of inmate brutality, and inhumane conditions, especially in “Tent City” are not new to MCSO. Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio has earned the reputation for being the “Toughest Sheriff in America” during the last 15 years he has held the post.

Protections From “Use of Excessive Force” or “Police Brutality” 

Despite the fact that a person has been arrested, they still have rights against police brutality, “cruel and unusual punishment” and “use of excessive force” by police. These protections originate from both the U.S. States Constitution, and the Arizona Constitution.

The guideline for this determination is that police are allowed to use only as much physical needed to safely restrain; prevent a suspect from fleeing, and that needed to keep innocent witnesses or bystanders from being harmed.

Criminal Court

Following an arrest for a crime, a suspect will need to first defend their charges in Criminal Court. If they feel their rights were violated; they were abused; or unnecessary force was used, they should report the events to their criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. There may be constitutional right violations or other defenses that may be used as a result of police brutality, or rights violations. The defendant’s criminal attorney will represent them and defend their charges if retained. These defenses may lead to dismissal of charges, suppression of evidence; mitigation of sentencing; or other favorable resolutions.

Civil Court

Following the criminal court resolution of the charges a defendant or their families may consider suing for damages in civil court, if they were brutalized, neglected or feel the law enforcement entity was responsible for wrongful death, they should then consult a civil Personal Injury Attorney. Although criminal court and civil court are two entirely separate entities, the outcome of the criminal charges may sometimes be useful in pursuing or defending the claim.  For this reason the defendant is encouraged to resolve their criminal matter first.