Was Juan Mendoza Farias beaten to death by Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s guards?

On December 2, 2007, a 40-year-old man named Juan Mendoza Farias was arrested and booked into the Maricopa County Jail. Like a lot of people who come through Sheriff Joe Arpaio's doors, Farias' offense was DUI-related, a probation violation.

Farias wound up with a death sentence.

After three days, he was clearly going through alcohol withdrawal. According to written accounts from detention officers, Farias became hostile and started resisting their orders.

When that happened, officers cuffed Farias and put his legs in shackles and moved him to an isolated "safe" or "soft" cell, designed to prevent him from hurting himself or others. The officers fired six rounds of crowd-control "pepper balls" at Farias and shocked him with at least two Tasers.

Later, jail officials moved Farias into the psychiatric ward, according to the reports they wrote after his death.

Eleven officers teamed up to move Farias. They swarmed him, wrapped a blanket over his head, and strapped a leather restraint, known as a "belly belt," around the blanket to hold it in place.

Then they put him in a wheelchair with restraints.

"Get me out of here. They just kidnapped me. They are trying to shoot me. They just [shot] me on my legs. Somebody is trying to kill me," Farias yelled as the officers surrounded him, according to one sergeant's report.

Another officer wrote that Farias was "talking nonsense."

Maybe not. Photos show that he was, indeed, shot in the legs — by Tasers and pepper balls. And he did stop breathing minutes after shouting that he was being killed.

As officers pulled Farias out of the wheelchair, they wrestled a "spit mask" over his mouth. Spit masks are used to cover an inmate's face below the nose; they're supposed to be used only if an inmate is biting or spitting.

Officers then pushed Farias face down on his stomach — a deadly position that can lead to suffocation if guards push down too hard. It's well known in law enforcement that an inmate on his stomach can easily die from "positional asphyxiation." If the inmate is cuffed behind the back and officers apply too much pressure, the lungs simply can't function. A mask over the mouth — limiting airflow — can exacerbate the situation.

Two officers held Farias' legs and other guards pinned down his arms and back while yet another "held his head down" for nearly 10 minutes, according to the reports.

Farias was fighting for his life. The county medical examiner documented "blunt force injuries" on his face, torso, and limbs. His neck muscles hemorrhaged internally from the strain, and a gash was notched out of his nose — either from being struck or from being pressed into something.

As the guards held him face down, one noticed that Farias was no longer moving or breathing. The guards rolled him over and pulled the spit mask off his mouth. It was filled with blood. So were his nostrils.

The guards attempted CPR, but it didn't work. Farias was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.


Juan Mendoza Farias is not the first inmate to die after a violent exchange with guards in Arpaio's jail. In the past 12 years, at least four other men have died after exchanges with guards. And those are just the ones we know about, the ones whose families sued Arpaio and won hefty payments.

In one case, a jury found officers responsible for killing 33-year old Charles Agster, a mentally retarded man who weighed 125 pounds.

That jury awarded $9 million to Agster's family in 2006. It was one of more than 2,500 inmate lawsuits against Arpaio that have cost the county more than $43 million (see "Inhumanity Has a Price," John Dickerson, December 20, 2007).

This is the first time you're reading about Farias, even though he died in December. That's because Arpaio isn't open-mouthed when it comes to the deaths of his inmates.

If not for an anonymous tip to New Times, Farias' death would still be secret. Even after New Times requested specific records about Farias' death, the sheriff refused to hand them over, citing an "ongoing investigation."

The Maricopa County medical examiner released the records, in response to a public-records request from New Times.

Otherwise, the details of Farias' death would be unknown to all but his family, anyone with unrestricted access to the sheriff's records, and the medical examiner who inspected his corpse.

The examiner concluded that the manner of Farias' death was undetermined. But she reported "complications of chronic alcoholic withdrawal associated with cardiopulmonary arrest during subdual for combative and violent behavior," adding "hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathy with coronary artery disease." The "prone restraint on bed," the spit mask, and the altercation with the guards also contributed to Farias' death, she wrote.

In other words, the excitement required more oxygen in Farias' lungs, but the mask over his mouth and the weight on his back restricted his lungs from functioning. An underlying and non-lethal heart disease meant that Farias' heart couldn't handle the combined weight and lack of oxygen.

New Times asked an out-of-state medical examiner to review Farias' records. He concluded that Farias was beaten and then suffocated.

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32 comments
Susan Rastella
Susan Rastella

As usual Sheriff Arpaio will deny any wrong doing on behalf of the Deputies. He will further deny any knowledge of anything, at any time, about everything in his Sheriff's department. His words of "I know nothing" is getting old. Can he really think the voters in Maricopa County are that stupid?

If you don't believe he is a poor example for a Sheriff I can provide you with about 99.5 million other reasons.

Sheriff Joe, be a man (LMFAO) and RESIGN!

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ajibik
ajibik

If you'll remember: Jefferson Davis McGee who was picked up Maricopa County sheriff�s detectives in 2001 for questioning in the rape and murder of 8-year-old Elizabeth Byrd. Arpaio thought he had his man. And it seems that the sheriff might have gone to great lengths in an attempt to get a confession out of this high-profile suspect.

The problem the sheriff�s office faced was that, after many hours of interrogation, McGee hadn�t confessed to the murder. So sheriff�s personnel decided to book McGee into the jail on an unrelated charge. There was an outstanding warrant against him on an old petty theft beef (turned out McGee wasn�t guilty of that crime, either). Then a strange thing happened. Against departmental policy regarding accused child molesters or child killers, McGee was placed in the jail�s general population of maximum-security inmates. It�s the most dangerous place in the jail. And it�s common knowledge that child molesters, or �chomos� as they�re called by inmates, are in the most danger of all.

Of course, once he was moved, the inevitable happened. Fellow inmates found out what everybody else knew from local TV � that McGee was the key suspect in the girl�s murder. They then spent more than 10 minutes taking turns beating him in his bunk.

The sheriff�s office�s line is that guards didn�t see any train of inmates going in and out of McGee�s cell. But in jail videotapes surrounding the incident obtained by New Times, one guard, Michael Crane, is seen entering the maximum-security pod during the beating, walking to within 10 feet of McGee�s door, talking with two inmates and then leaving. After the guard departs, the beating continues.

McGee barely survived the assault. If he hadn�t been taken to the county hospital for emergency surgery, he would have bled to death. Doctors had to cut open his chest from sternum to pubic bone to save him. Amazingly, he survived with only the loss of his spleen and a grotesque scar.

bruce
bruce

dave i hope you and your family are killed by a drunk driver.

bruce
bruce

it looks to me like this drunken bum did this to him self.at least he won't be driving drunk any more and endangering other people.

Coz
Coz

-----Original Message-----From: Jim Cozzolino Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 12:15 PMTo: 'phoenix@ic.fbi.gov'Subject: Mugshot Reveals Inmate in Joe Arpaio's Jail Had No Facial Bruises Before His Death

How many people is Arpaio and his Monkey's allowed to kill before someone steps in and stops the maddness ?Can anyone answer that honestly ?Jim Cozzolino

Mugshot Reveals Inmate in Joe Arpaio's Jail Had No Facial Bruises Before His Death Mon Sep 22, 2008 at 07:41:47 AM By John Dickerson Phoenix New Times

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.c...

Juan Mendoza Farias appeared to be in good health -- or at least his face was -- in a booking photo taken four days before his bruised body arrived at the county morgue.

Farais, 40, a legal U.S. resident with a valid social security number, died after a violent altercation with Sheriff Joe Arpaio's guards in the Maricopa County Jail. New Times recently wrote about his death, noting that the Sheriff's Office refuses to hand over video footage that could show exactly how much force the guards used.

Since then, the MCSO mailed this booking photo to New Times, as well as a legal statement, asserting that the MCSO will continue to withhold the video. The mugshot shows Farias' face when he was arrested December 2, 2007 on a warrant for violating his probation following a DUI. Around midnight on December 4, 2007, Farias stopped breathing and began bleeding from his nose and mouth while 11 guards reportedly restrained him. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. The following photos were taken on December 7, 2007.

Farias' body was beaten and bruised, according to photos and an autopsy report produced by the county Medical Examiner's Office. Welts from "pepper-ball" shots (normally used for crowd control) and from electronic Taser devices are evident on the body.

Since July 25, 2007, the MCSO has refused to produce any records about Farias' death -- with the exception now of this lone booking photo (which the MCSO charged New Times $10.50 to produce).

In its most recent correspondence, the MCSO's legal liaison claims that releasing the video footage of Farais' final moments would compromise its own investigation of the death.

"Investigations can be compromised by the disclosure of certain documents or recordings. For example, if a witness were to view a videotape of the incident or have information relayed...by someone who viewed the videotape, it is possible that the witness' memory what occurred will be altered to conform to what they believe they are seeing or what they have been told," Legal Liaison Pam Woody wrote.

As reported in the September 11 story about Farias, two of the guards' written accounts describing Farias' death match word-for-word. Two additional accounts shared duplicate sentences.

Walter McGrath
Walter McGrath

Joe Arapaio is a National Hero. I only wish Sheriff Joe would have run for President. Now there's a man who can kick butt and take names. Too bad the prisoner died but he should have behaved himself. I'd say he "fought the law and the law won" which is the way we want all those encounters to go.

Hats off to Sheriff Joe for protecting Maricopa County residents and setting an example for Law Enforcement nation wide.

Coz
Coz

There will never be any justice within or around MCSO as long as Bozo Joke Arpaio is in charge and his Monkey followers like BigBadDO to do his dirty work and continue to cover up and lie for everything that happens within MCSO.

It's time Bozo Joe gets booted from office and those that have done is dirty work go to jail.

No More Arpaio in 2008.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

"Big Bad D.O." is right when he says that the video is merely being withheld as a result of policy. The same policy that unlawfully refuses to release public records; the same policy that unlawfully refuses to comply with discovery requests in legal cases; the same policy that unlawfully refuses to comply with court orders; the same policy that unlawfully tampers with evidence and obstructs justice.

Yeah, that policy.

It's so easy to show up here and bad-mouth a dead man and claim that you wish the video had been released, but in fact it wasn't and the MCSO is doing everything they possibly can, as usual whenever they are responsible for gross physical abuse of prisoners, to temporize, obfuscate, deny, and escape culpability, instead of complying with the law, admitting culpability, and instituting the kind of changes necessary to insure that it doesn't happen again, while bringing those responsible to justice.

david saint
david saint

towife of mcso officer:

i have not walked in their shoes, but i know plenty of cops who a: know what the word restraint is, and the difference between compliance and revengeb: AND THIS IS THE IMPORTANT ONE, HAVENT KILLED ANYONE IN THEIR CUSTODY, EVEN IF THEY RAN AND/OR ATTACKED THEM..im sick of hearing excuses and reasons that make their actions somehow ok..its time for accountability, and if the cops under him cant make that distinction, then they are just as culpable in the deaths for not standing up for A: THE LAWB: WHATS RIGHT

but more importantly, ask yourself how would you feel if that was someone you knew, or a loved one? again, time for the excuses and cover ups to end, and for cops to be held accountable for their misdeads..(oh, and the " their cops so they should get away with it" excuse is dead too. WE AS CITIZENS ARE ACCOUNTABLE, SO SHOULD COPS!!)

ps i thank your husband for his dedication to protecting the public (and me), but it means nothing if its the cops breaking the law and the rest just turn a blind eye!

David
David

That man is running a Soviet era Gulag. There is no difference. In the name of trying to stop drugs, and immigration, he has become as barbaric as the soviets. Those who hurt others in jail face no penalties, they are rewarded for protecting their friends and the jail, they cover up their crimes, and apparently in a brazen way.

Big Bad D.O.
Big Bad D.O.

Damn, you caught me. Nothing gets by you... We picked that guy out of the 10,000 in custody and said "Yeah, thats the one, lets kill him.." Oh boy I hope that doesnt get out.. ...oops.. too late.

Coz
Coz

Bullshit...but nice try.

>>Big Bad D.O. from LBJ staff

wife-of-msco-officer
wife-of-msco-officer

Please do not lump every officer into this. I know plenty of MSCO officers who take their jobs very seriously. I would say, you can't criticize until you have walked a mile in their shoes. They deal with rapist, murderers, drug addicts and the like and their lives are in danger every single shift. Think of what you would do if you would in their situations.

brandon
brandon

if any people want to know more about mr sheriff joes jail on the inside please contact me. i was resently arested for a minor trafic violation and was not treated like a human y i was there in acordance with loosing my job over a trafic ticket wen they were realesing people that were actualy in jail for felony crimes like robery ecsetera..

Big Bad D.O.
Big Bad D.O.

I invite anyone to come take a tour of LBJ, or any of our jails for that matter. What you see on the news, or read in new times for that matter (which has a known bias against MCSO), is utter bullshit. I PROMISE that the full facts of this case have not been released. As far as not releasing video... its policy, not hiding. I honestly WISH the video of this man's actions towards officers and staff WERE released. He was not only going through alcohol withdraws, he was also on about every known street drug under the sun. Alcohol withdraws are a bitch, and they kill... a lot, if they are bad enough. This mans actions warranted the exact level of force that he received. He was not 'beaten', I assure you. He was however, restrained.... aggressively. The bruises you see are from altercations from other inmates who threattened to kill him. The two officers that used the exact same report, were probably doing so out of fear.. at any rate, its obvious that which ever officer wrote it, cant write reports for shit. I hope they are punished for their actions (the report copying). Im sure the insurance company will pay out..again... and it wont go to trail (again..), which is a shame. Seriously folks, come on down and have a look. I REALLY wish people didnt believe everything they heard, but then again.. I dont know why I'd expect more from sheep. I hope to GOD someone leaks the video footage on this one... LBJ has ~800 cameras... its ALL there.

Coz
Coz

Ahhh yes, more sanctioned killing in Maricopa County Jails by Arpaio and his Monkey's.

Another civil suit that's going to cost us, the tax payers millions of dollars.

Where does it end ?

Ed
Ed

Patricia, if the "people" who work in "law enforcement" were given psychological evaluations, I guarantee that there would be no one left to work in "law enforcement".

MCSOJG
MCSOJG

The Jail Guards Did their Jobs well, and if You come to our Jail we can show you the same Hospitality as the Last poor Sucker. That guy Needed to DIE. He was a Danger to himself and others. WE ARE THE LAW, You Have No Rights, Except Those WE GIVE YOU, so Get Used to it, and Do as Your Told, and Maybe You will Live to See Tomorrow.

patricia jenske
patricia jenske

I am constantly sickened to my stomache over the reported treatment of inmates in the MCSO. Why does it seem that the people that work for MCSO get away with so much abuse? Those people the are abusive ought to have the same thing done to them as they do to inmates. The jail system seems to be brutal! Also, do they do psycological reports on the stability of the people they hire? Seems like alot of people have skeletons in their closets.....

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

I only hope that the family and friends of this man deal with the deputies who killed him on a "personal" level. I can assure you if this were my friend or family member, the legal system would be the least of these punk wannabe cops concerns!

Jiffwww.anonymize.us.tc

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

First-rate work by Mr. Dickerson. That includes not only all of the new information developed, but also probably the best summary of related cases I have ever seen published by New Times, as well as the seamless tie-in. Mr. Dickerson didn't take anything for granted and didn't permit the The Usual Suspects to get away with their habitual lies, misleading omissions, mischaracterizations, equivocation, and other obfuscatory nonsense.

I note that the written testimonies of the guards Kush and Trueman are identical even down to typographic errors.

For example, both wrote "After his legs (sic) chains..." -- nor could this indicate habitual deviant usage by MCSO personnel because in the previous sentence both used the correct term "leg chains".

So, it was a spelling error that snuck into a master draft and the genius who cut and paste the text into the "independent" testimonies either didn't catch it or couldn't be bothered to correct it.

david saint
david saint

Bruce:so do you work for MCSO, or are you just another racist POS? Because any right minded, sane person would never say that because someone violated their probation and drank they deserved to die. Your just saying that because hes mexican. just admit it....your a scumbag..

bruce
bruce

this man brought this on himself with his criminal behavior i believe that the police acted according standard procedure.all this fool had to do was obey orders and act like a civilized human and act like a man.he chose to act like an animal and got what he deserved now we have one less criminal on the lose.

david saint
david saint

sorry, i deleted part of it on accident...but the part when i said "gee i wonder" referred to "i wonder why thomas and arpaio tried to get all of the judges removed..now any sane person can see why"..

david saint
david saint

Mikey:that would be a good solution, but someone has to have it put in place, and no one seems to want to hold them accountable...maybe the judge in hart vs arpaio hopefully will though, because the judges seem to be the only ones recognizing the madness and not taking part....gee, i wonder Im just disgusted to be an American when i read that cops and jail staff are continously in the middle of inmate deaths and breaking the law, and nothing happens to them. Sounds more like Zimbabwe than Arizona..maybe we should start calling it AZ/Zimbabwe Confidential.??

Gizzaed
Gizzaed

Nice job Arpaio. Another death due to inadequate training of your jail guards and the response. How many millions will this one cost? If I can help the family financially in anyway with legal expenses to go after your ass, I will. I wonder if your guards fondled him before he died?

Arpaio You Suck!

Mikey
Mikey

The solution is simple: Don't keep the recording equipment in the jails. Don't let MCSO have any access at all to the cameras, computers, or disks. Have this housed somewhere that would have whatever jurisdiction and security classification to handle the devices. If you have the people who may be guilty able to access the evidence showing if they are guilty, you're gonna have this kind of BS happen all the time.

David Saint
David Saint

SO let me get this straight, 8 guards have been proven to have beaten inmates and nothing has happened. HELLO, EARTH TO FBI..TIME TO DO YOUR F'N JOBS ALREADY, OR ARE YOU WAITING UNTIL MCSO STARTS LYNCHING INMATES PUBLICLY IN FRONT OF THE JAIL? i mean come one already, how far does it have to go until someone stops whats amounting to county sponsored murder? The internal joke dept over at MCSO has never found anyone responsible/guilty for their actions, not even one thats caught speeding more than 45mph over the speed limit on a surface street. Its time someone stepped up and proved that cops arent above the law, without reprocussion for their actions. Without cops you have anarchy, but with cops and detention officers continuing to break the law without reprocussion you have INSANITY! I find it totally amusing also that Thomas recently accused opponent Nelson of taking donations by defense attorneys so they can get better deals. Hey Andy, try PROSECUTING ONE OF THE MANY MURDERS BY DO'S BEFORE YOU START THAT BS.

Susan Rastella
Susan Rastella

You must be joking, right? Did Arpaio pay you to post this?

 
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