It takes a twisted individual to delight in the sufferings of the mentally ill. A special type of sick, sadistic bully. The kind employed in spades by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

The December 16 killing of Army veteran Marty Atencio is the latest example of the above, one of the most recent in a string of corpses that punctuates the timeline of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's nearly 20-year career as this county's top lawman.

As reported last week in my Feathered Bastard blog, the Atencio family's attorney, Mike Manning, has filed notices of claim, totaling $20 million, with both the city of Phoenix and Maricopa County in Atencio's brutal demise at the hands of Phoenix cops and MCSO detention officers working in the Fourth Avenue Jail.

Army vet Marty Atencio (bottom right) dies naked in a "safe cell" after a jailhouse beat-down and multiple Tasings, while MCSO detention officers and a Phoenix cop joke, dance, and laugh.
MCSO
Army vet Marty Atencio (bottom right) dies naked in a "safe cell" after a jailhouse beat-down and multiple Tasings, while MCSO detention officers and a Phoenix cop joke, dance, and laugh.

Since the 44-year-old's death occurred just hours after the U.S. Department of Justice issued its scathing report on the MCSO's pattern of discriminatory policing, racial profiling, and abuse of Latinos in Joe's gulags, much has been revealed about the circumstances surrounding the Atencio homicide.

The county medical examiner's autopsy noted Atencio's history of mental illness and hospitalization for psychosis.

Toxicology results from specimens, including those taken at St. Joseph's Hospital hours after Atencio's arrest earlier that day, showed no illicit drugs in Atencio's system.

Phoenix Police Department reports reveal that Atencio generally was passive and compliant during the two encounters with Phoenix cops that culminated in his arrest on December 15.

Indeed, Atencio "showed no signs of being a danger to himself or others," according to Phoenix Officer Sarah Roberts.

Rather, Atencio "simply appeared to be not medicated and engaged in very random conversation," Roberts said.

Atencio was arrested in West Phoenix for scaring a resident, Cathy Boyd, after kicking the apartment door of her neighbor.

Manning quotes from Boyd's affidavit recounting details of the incident:

"Marty did not physically threaten me at any time . . . I knew there was something wrong with him, and I just wanted him to . . . get some help."

Apparently, Atencio was treated well until he was taken to Arpaio's infamous jail, where cruelty is king and an idiotic environment pervades.

The most damning evidence of Atencio's mistreatment comes from interviews with detention officers and Phoenix cops carried out within days, sometimes within hours, of Atencio's beat-down and Tasing, referred to euphemistically by the Medical Examiner's Office as a "law enforcement subdual."

The interviews were done by MCSO detectives. Manning's law office obtained them through a public-records request.

Apparently, Atencio's mind at the time was like that of a child's. Disoriented, spouting nonsensical comments, he often referred to himself in the third person as "Tony" and seemed to be mimicking Robin Williams' character in Good Morning, Vietnam.

Some detention officers and cops thought Atencio was on drugs, claiming that he told someone during his stay in Fourth Avenue that he had smoked meth earlier in the day.

But toxicology reports don't lie. Cops and detention officers are another story. Soon after Atencio was taken, brain dead, to St. Joe's, they were making assumptions to rationalize their behavior.

Thing is, the breakdown in law enforcement discipline — including a Phoenix cop's pushing Atencio with his cuffed hands bent awkwardly and painfully — cannot be rationalized.

It also included MCSO detention officers mocking and humiliating Atencio as they took his mug shot.

"They encouraged him to make funny faces and . . . kept saying, 'Let's make this one the Mug Shot of the Week,'" one witness said.

Another witness noted that when they took Atencio's picture, "It was a big joke" and "they all stood around and laughed about it."

This hilarity turned deadly once Atencio was surrounded by officers demanding that he remove his shoes. When in Phoenix custody, cops had gotten Atencio to take off his shoes by just being patient and repeating their request. Here, Phoenix police and MCSO guards were far from patient.

Two Phoenix police officers who were there to help process detainees initiated what Manning calls a "jailers' riot," even though Atencio was standing before them, arms crossed, presenting no threat.

The notice of claim identifies the Phoenix cops as Patrick Hanlon and Nicholas French.

Several MCSO gendarmes joined the fray, in what one onlooker called "a big ol' dog pile." Though Atencio was smothered by officers, MCSO Sergeant Jason Weiers Tased Atencio several times.

Anthony Hatton, a detention officer who since has left the MCSO, punched Atencio in the face three times. Hatton claimed the strikes were necessary, but a couple of his fellow guards did not agree.

"He shouldn't have been punching him," detention Officer Sergio Salinas told investigators. "It was excessive."

Later, after Atencio was hauled to a "safe cell," where he would be stripped of clothing and left to die, Hatton continued the abuse, kneeing Atencio as guards held him down.

Detention officer Blas Gabrial told detectives that he yelled Hatton's name upon seeing the force used on Atencio. When asked why, he said, "Because I didn't think it was necessary."

While Atencio was lying motionless and naked in the safe cell, where he would breathe his last breath without life support, what were many of these men and women of law enforcement doing?

Laughing, joking, and cutting up like teenagers. Video shows two women — one in uniform — dancing and bumping butts. Hatton laughs and demonstrates what looks like a fighting move to other officers. A Phoenix cop eats an orange and grins.

Minutes later, they're all gathering around the door, precious seconds slipping away as they take their time getting it open.

"[Prisoners] play that game a lot," Weiers told an investigator, referring to Atencio's stillness. "You know, playing like they're dead."

Atencio wasn't playing. He already was gone. But CPR was performed, and he was rushed to St. Joe's. On December 20, his family removed him from life support.

If you saw grown men and women abusing a mentally ill or disabled person, would you do something about it?

Likely so. Which is why, ultimately, I blame the voters of Maricopa County for what happened to Atencio.

They've been told about a lot of such brutality in Arpaio's jails over the years and, so far, have looked the other way.

FEMALE TROUBLE
What is it they used to say of dime-store novellas? Cherchez la femme, or "look for the woman."

That's the phrase that comes to mind when reading the $10 million notice of claim filed with Attorney General Tom Horne's office by Meg Hinchey, a veteran investigator there.

Hinchey claims she came across evidence of possibly illegal campaign-finance shenanigans "implicating Horne" after she was assigned by him to conduct a "confidential internal investigation" last July.

Since then, she's turned over the allegations to the FBI. The agency has been investigating, and it has involved the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which apparently had — and may still have — a grand jury probe ongoing.

The alleged shenanigans involve an independent-expenditure committee called Business Leaders for Arizona, which was run by Horne loyalist Kathleen Winn, now Horne's outreach coordinator.

Winn held an unpaid position in Horne's GOP primary campaign against now-disgraced and disbarred Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

She was instrumental in Horne's slim primary win and, thereafter, left the campaign to run her existing independent-expenditure committee, raising beaucoup bucks from backers and an in-law of Horne's to run attack ads against Horne's Democratic foil, Felecia Rotellini.

Horne eked past Rotellini in the general election, which would be fair, unless there was coordination between the Horne campaign and the Winn effort. If so, there are the niceties of campaign-finance laws, which almost no one seems to care about in this state.

More serious are the allegations that the state's top law enforcement officer engaged in retaliation against Hinchey and even suggested destroying or hiding evidence, specifically files produced by Hinchey.

As part of the fallout, the chief of Horne's criminal division, former Judge Jim Keppel, amscrayed from his post and publicly backed Hinchey's claims, at least as they relate to him.

Keppel and Hinchey have good reputations; Horne not so much. It remains to be seen if Horne's anticipated 2014 gubernatorial bid is as dead as Paul Babeu's congressional career, or if worse is on the way. Like, indictments.

I'm not going to turn blue in the face waiting for the Federal Bureau of Incompetence to act, seeing how it did such a terrible job with its supposed four-year probe of J.T. Ready, the late baby-killing, grenade-hoarding neo-Nazi.

Not to mention the FBI's lame investigation into Joe Arpaio on allegations of abuse of power, which has produced zilch in about the same time period.

And it sure would surprise me if current County Attorney Bill Montgomery were to seek an indictment of a fellow Republican during an election year.

But to bring things back around to a certain French maxim, it amuses me no end that Horne instigated Hinchey's "confidential internal investigation" because he wanted to plug a leak, from a mole who purportedly was talking to me about Horne's goombah, Carmen Chenal. You remember her: She ended up scoring a desk in the criminal division under Keppel, despite her previous State Bar suspension.

I wrote about it in a July 14, 2011, column. But because Horne believed my public-records requests preceding the article showed that there was a mole on his premises, he ordered Hinchey to do her best Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy routine to root the rotter out.

Blame fell on Winn, mainly because she and I had talked on and off during the primary and after. And I guess my name in her phone somewhere was enough to convince Hinchey that she was my source.

Though I've been aware for a while of Horne's siccing Hinchey on Winn, what I could not reveal until now — after the Arizona Republic mentioned that probe in its article on the Hinchey situation — is that there was no mole for my July 14 article.

All the information on Carmen Chenal that I obtained was from public records. There was no Benedict Arnold whispering in my ear. I didn't need one. Both Horne and Chenal have built up armies of haters over the years, and there are many outside the AG's Office willing to gab on background.

Why was Horne so worried about the Chenal matter that he ordered an internal investigation into a mere press leak?

I can only disclose that Horne asked to meet me for an off-the-record interview after the Chenal story ran. I can't reveal what we discussed.

Post-Watergate, they say, it's the coverup that gets politicians in trouble. Too early to tell whether this will be the case here. Though, if it is, Horne can only point his index finger at himself.

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28 comments
Tom
Tom

When Yahoo gets a good liberal propaganda piece they leave it up for weeks. I wonder how long this one will be up.

GreenHornet
GreenHornet

God forbid you have a mental illness and forget to take your meds in this town. The MCSO will kill ya.

GreenHornet
GreenHornet

Not sure if you think that's a good thing or a bad thing. Thing is, they guy was off his meds was not violent. The guards have no right to mete out a death sentence.

GreenHornet
GreenHornet

What about the cops laughing, you dig that, dickhead?

Walter Sigona
Walter Sigona

Working in jails and prisons sucks pretty bad. A majority of the inmates are supreme assholes. It becomes a us vs them situation. Most jailers believe they have to be the meanest gang in the joint. Its a mob mentality that's only understood when you walked down a cell block.

Conrad Barb
Conrad Barb

Arizona is fucked up anyway you look at it!!!

AZ Rocks
AZ Rocks

or create the dots like no other

Fermor332002
Fermor332002

Smacks of Kelly Thomas from Calie. Only they killed him out in the open in front of witnesses and it was recorded. Two of the pigs are going to go to jail for a long time. The other 7 have pending charges. This kind of thing happens all over the USA and needs to be stoped. Take a look at copblock.org to see how your rights are being s()t on by cops that think that they can and will do what ever they want to you or any one else that they want. You have to watch your back arround cops.

Ashley
Ashley

have you ever tried to get an adult family member mental help when they are too sick to accept it? my family tried desperately for more than 20 years to get my uncle the help he needed. he was homeless and on the streets for years at a time, being constantly arrested for minor crimes. at least when he was in jail we knew where he was. you cannot commit an adult, in this state at least, until they are declared a danger to themselves or others. he wasn't "dangerous crazy", just "crazy crazy", so we were out of luck. the police always assumed he was on drugs when he got picked up; i've read all the reports, no one once suggested he might have had mental problems. no matter how hard a family tries, they are fighting against the system.

Anon
Anon

Anon, "very poorly..." is NOT the same "anon" who posted earlier re: "Abu Graib, torture, inc., etc."

Biagina
Biagina

arpaoi is a piece of shit and those assholes who murdered this man need to be exterminated my god how can anyone just sit by...I just don't get it....a concern for this murdered man's naked body and not one comment about the lowlifes running this godforsaken dump

adrianinflorida
adrianinflorida

All run by the lowest bidder. Corporate prisons, what could go wrong with that?

Amjmelb
Amjmelb

Disrespectful? Any more disrespectful than the way Arpaio's guards murdered the detainee? Time for Joe to do down for his actions, he's gotten away with this stuff for way too long.

Fuck The Right
Fuck The Right

It's time for the feds or the bos to step in and bring this so called law enforcement agency to its knees. These fucking people if you really can call them that are just plain disgusting.

Charlie Van Riper
Charlie Van Riper

This is more MCSO Bullshit. When are we as voters and citezens of Maricopa county and Arizona going to say enough is enough. please go ahead you that are in law enforcement step forward to give or make excuses for this. Ya their is none. MCSO Sergeant Jason Weiers Conspiracy to commit Murder, Patrick Hanlon and Nicholas French Murderers, Can I say Free and clear Legal Murder!!!!!!!!

Charlievanriper
Charlievanriper

This is more MCSO Bullshit. When are we as voters and citezens of Maricopa county and Arizona going to say enough is enough. please go ahead you that are in law enforcement step forward to give or make excuses for this. Ya their is none. MCSO Sergeant Jason Weiers Conspiracy to commit Murder, Patrick Hanlon and Nicholas French Murderers, Can I say Free and clear Legal Murder!!!!!!!!

Fuck The Right
Fuck The Right

These fucking people are the worst of the worst. Happy b day joe, you worthless lump of shit. I hope it is your last.

Coz
Coz

Totally agree. But they are few and far in between with MCSO.

Coz
Coz

It says he has compassion, honor and ethic's, something you'll never find with Arpaio's Nazi's.

Adrianvalenz
Adrianvalenz

Arpaio is a racist devil. He will get what he deserves when he meets his maker. KKK SCUM BAG.......

Kay
Kay

Maybe he isn't a corrupt pile of shit??? Just kidding...I have no doubt that the majority of MCSO deputies, CO's, and PPD officers are dedicated professionals. Why do you think at least 2 other CO's and a PPD officer, told investigators the truth in the Atencio investigation...he never represented a threat and there was no excuse for the force used on him!! PPD Officer Chrisman would not be on trial for murder right now had his partner just followed the blue line and lied.

Idontlikeyou
Idontlikeyou

WOW! If these guys can make it as Detention Officers and you failed twice what does that say about you? I don't think I would share that info with anyone.

MrEthiopian
MrEthiopian

WTF -Tom did you have the sack to serve your country (liberal propaganda) fuck you! you are beneath the shit I scrape from my shoe. Marty served his country and was killed by a bunch of filthy American hating jellyfish pussy's that don't have enough spine to actually serve their country, big men, it took like 20 of them to take one America hero. Laughing because they killed and American soldier and you call this liberal propaganda, I would love to get you in a room alone and discuss this, you fucking asshole, you have no respect for America or the hero's who protect it!

Jenningstrinkets
Jenningstrinkets

my ass my neighbors are jail guards prison guards and retired cops ,most are drunks abusive and just plain low lifes

GreenHornet
GreenHornet

Fourth Avenue is not a private jail. It's run by the MCSO.

 
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