Shocking Pink: Arpaio's Detention Officers Unnecessarily Terrorized a Psychotic Inmate Because He Resisted Wearing Pink Underwear

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's public-relations team issued a joyous press release after winning a civil rights case in U.S. District Court in downtown Phoenix.

"Civil Rights Violation Case Is 12th Straight Jury Win For Arpaio," the sheriff's flacks titled it.

The recent release quoted Arpaio: "Once again, this is yet another court case proving that my officers and my deputies do not violate people's civil rights — in the jails or on the streets."

Eric Vogel died of a heart attack after learning that the MCSO had filed a new charge against him.
Eric Vogel died of a heart attack after learning that the MCSO had filed a new charge against him.

No mention of the $43 million and counting in lawsuit payouts against the most sued sheriff in America — by far — and his minions.

Sure enough, an eight-person jury did return its verdict in favor of Arpaio and his detention officers after deliberating about a day and a half.

While plaintiff's attorney Joel Robbins had asked the jury to award his side a mere $100,000, the verdict for the defense came as little surprise — though not for the reasons mentioned in Arpaio's canned quote.

However, even though Arpaio won the day, deplorable details emerged during the trial that his detention officers unnecessarily terrorized the late Eric Vogel.

Vogel was a seriously mentally ill Phoenix man who died (of a heart attack, officially) in December 2001, a week after a violent incident with the jailers at the now-closed Madison Street Jail.

The civil case was filed by Vogel's survivors.

The outcome seemed probable after federal Judge Earl Carroll gutted the tort by dismissing the wrongful-death claim and not allowing the plaintiffs to question anyone on the witness stand about the case's critical pink-underwear component.

But first, some background about how Vogel, who was 36, ended up in jail:

According to court records and a 2002 New Times story by former staffer Robert Nelson, Vogel was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who, until one evening in November 2001, hadn't left his north Phoenix home without his mother, Ann, in about 16 years.

That night, Vogel somehow ended up in a stranger's backyard a few blocks away. The homeowner called Phoenix police, who quickly found Vogel, a large man described in reports as panicked and obviously delusional, at the scene.

Vogel jumped into the driver's seat of a police cruiser and grabbed at an officer's waist. A second officer sprayed Mace in Vogel's face as the first officer repeatedly hit him with a baton in the lower torso and legs.

All the while, Vogel was screaming at the Phoenix officers to shoot him.

The cops booked him at the county jail on charges of assaulting a cop. He stayed there for a week before his mother could come up with the money to bond him out.

Detention officers placed Vogel in an isolation cell overnight.

What happened the next afternoon is what led to the lawsuit.

County jailers wanted to take their clearly psychotic prisoner to the psych ward (known as 6-3). But records show that they told Vogel to strip and don the pink underwear and slippers that have given publicity hound Arpaio such media juice for years.

Vogel freaked at the thought of it.

Apparently, he believed that the jailers were dressing him up as a woman in preparation for being gang-raped (according to a psychologist who looked into the case, Vogel wasn't even sure where he was, thinking that he might be at the site of the recently destroyed World Trade Center).

His mother (also now deceased) told New Times in 2002 that Vogel later told her that he'd heard a detention officer say, "Okay, we're going to have a party," before six officers charged into his cell to change him into his pinks.

Vogel flailed against the onslaught, during which time he spit in the face of a sergeant. He screamed that he was going to be raped before the officers subdued him facedown on the floor.

The authorities then yanked off Vogel's clothes and forced him into the pink underwear. Then they secured the still-struggling inmate in a restraint chair and rolled him up to the psych ward.

Vogel returned to his mother's home after he was released on bond. But according to his mother's account, he was very depressed and in constant pain during the next few weeks.

Then, in early December 2001, Ann Vogel got into a minor car accident with her son as a passenger. Police at the scene noted that Eric had a new arrest warrant pending for assaulting another officer — the sheriff's sergeant he'd spit on.

The police didn't take Vogel into custody, but the news of the new charge allegedly sent Vogel into an even deeper funk. Within hours, his mother found him unconscious by the side of his bed.

Vogel was dead.

A county pathologist deemed the cause of death to be a heart attack.

The lawsuit that followed was filed in state court, and then was transferred a few years ago to federal court, where it was assigned to Judge Carroll, an 83-year-old appointee to the bench in 1980.

Before the trial, Carroll sided with Arpaio's defense lawyers in excluding any evidence that Vogel's phobia of pink underwear — and how the detention officers had dealt with it — may have constituted, among other things, a policy of discrimination and indifference against the seriously mentally ill.

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9 comments
Teo Buneo
Teo Buneo

He will win the appeal and when he is trying the new one he should raise the monetary damages to a minimum five million. Too bad Arpaio can't be held personally liable. His statement in Houston shows what an evil scum bucket the man is!

Bonnie
Bonnie

I wish there was a Sheriff Arpaio in L.A. back in 1970.

If there had been L.A. wouldn't like like shit hole.

junior
junior

let me see.the police report states that the person was panicked and obviously delusional at the scene.his worst crime at that time was trespassing.why was he not taken to your county hospital first?his actions clearly warranted medical intervention.but county jail?god help the less fortunate people of arizona,junior

Steve
Steve

I also find it hilarious that Paul Ruben thinks that when an inmate is being booked, and he's not cooperating or doing what the officers tell him to do, they should be put in timeout. Those officers don't have time to play their f---ing games! They should not have handled it any differently. Except maybe he should have been taken in when they found out he had a warrant, rather than letting him go.

Steve
Steve

Yeah, the MCSO got away with murder. Believe everything the New Times tells you. HOW PATHETIC! So the MCSO "killed" this mentally ill person because a month after being in their custody he was told he had an arrest warrant...and they didn't even arrest him for it, and he dies of heart failure that night. That's murder? LMAO, the New Times, and their gullible idiotic readers never fail to amaze me. The "mental anguish" of telling him there was a charge against him killed him, so let's throw Sheriff Joe in prison!!!

southbound6942
southbound6942

Hey Steve, I get the sarcasm about throwing Joe in prison. Funny. In all seriousness though, a high velocity projectile to the forehead would be quite sufficient. It's too bad that you and all the other people like you don't form a club. You could call it "Joe's Butt Buddies". Pray like hell you never have to spend a night in that jack-asses Resort because you are obviously in need of mental help and you sure as hell won't get any medical attention at Joes. I think Hitler would have loved you (in that "special" kind of way).

Kpegjer94
Kpegjer94

NO dont throw Arpaio in prison for this particular GESTAPO TYPE SHERIFFS REACTION ................ throw him in prison FOR BEING A CROOKED COP .......you all are forgetting his buddy is on trial now .....you remember Thomas ????? dis barment is going to be too good for him ..........MARK MY WORDS .......ARPAIO WILL ANSWER FOR HIS CROOKED DEALINGS.......and to all you Arpaio camp followers .... all the smoke and mirrors is not going to stop it .................when it does happen ........ALL YOU VOCAL ARPAIO FOLLOWERS WILL GO SILENT ....................

Coz
Coz

So MCSO got away with Murder again...how nice.

 
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