Joe Arpaio's Victim Deborah Braillard: Seven Figure Settlement in Wrongful Death Lawsuit, ABC 15 Reports
Wednesday's report from Biscobing...
Kudos to ABC 15 and its reporter Dave Biscobing for the yeomanlike work they've done in bringing to Phoenix viewers the civil trial in Pinal County over the MCSO jail death of diabetic mom Deborah Braillard.
See also: -What's Mom Worth?: When a Woman Became Deathly Ill in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Jail, Guards and Nurses Ignored Her Agony -Arpaio Snuggles Up to an Ex-Inmate in His Cynical Bid for a Sixth Term -Paul Penzone Can Beat Arpaio, If He Turns Up the Heat
The station has owned coverage of the three week trial, offering regular, exclusive reports on testimony from Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his former chief deputy David Hendershott, and the detention officers who ignored the dying woman.
Other trial testimony included the former medical director of the Maricopa County jails who agreed that inmates dying needlessly was just "the cost of doing business," and a tearful account from Braillard's daughter about having to take her mom off life support.
Last night, Biscobing broke the news that, "Attorneys for Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the county offered a settlement to the family of Deborah Braillard to avoid having the case go to a jury."
Biscobing also reported that the settlement figure is "at least $1 million."
That's in addition to the $1.8 million in legal fees that have been billed to Maricopa County on the case so far. That figure will likely increase, as it does not include work done by lawyers during the trial.
In Biscobing's reports, he's noted that jail lawsuits over the years have cost the county $25 million since Arpaio took office.
If you throw in all of the other lawsuits the MCSO has taken hits on because of malfeasance and corruption under Joe, the total is more than $50 million.
Braillard's death could easily have been avoided if she'd received the insulin and care that she needed.
She was in Arpaio's gulags in 2005 for a minor charge of drug possession. Without her insulin, she quickly grew ill, vomiting and defecating on herself, crying out in pain, and eventually slipping into a diabetic coma, three days after being admitted to Arpaio's notorious Fourth Avenue Jail.
Despite pleas from her fellow inmates and her obvious symptoms, the dumb, insensitive and poorly trained detention officers refused to get her help, assuming Braillard was kicking a drug habit.
"This is jail," the MCSO goons and goonettes said. "Get over it."
But according to the medical examiner, Braillard had no illicit drugs in her system. She later died at a local hospital due to complications from her diabetes, because she had been denied treatment.
In former Village Voice Executive Editor Mike Lacey's absorbing 2010 cover story on the Braillard case, Braillard's agony in custody and in the hospital is recounted in chilling detail. The following passage offers this remembrance of Braillard's death by her daughter.
Because Deborah's body retained fluids, she swelled grotesquely.
"The big enormous chain around her ankle . . . it was embedded in her leg. Her organs shut down."
Arpaio's deputy, stationed near Deborah, refused to unshackle the woman, though Jennylee said her mom was released from jail once she was sent to the emergency room.
Her feet had turned black. Her mouth was scabrous.
On January 23, three weeks after her arrest, a priest came into the hospital to visit.
Deborah Braillard had a Bible when she coded.
"I freaked and left the room."
The doctor came around the corner searching for Jennylee.
She screamed, "I know. I know!"
In one report from the trial, Biscobing discussed the testimony of Arpaio and Hendershott, writing the following in an online article:
"Arpaio acknowledged that there was no formal internal investigation launched into why detention officers never sought medical assistance for Braillard.
"Arpaio, talking about his jails that he once described as `bad' told the jury, `It's a tough environment and we do the best we can.'"
Hendershott, oddly, was a little more critical of his old agency, according to Biscobing:
Former Maricopa County Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott told the jury that he hoped detention officers would summon medical assistance for anybody as sick as Braillard was while in custody.
Hendershott said, "You wouldn't just let it alone--you'd make sure assistance was given."
He admitted the jail went through periods of being dangerously understaffed.
And he said, "I would like to see detention officers be aware of inmates' welfare."
When asked if he thought there should have been an internal investigation into the death of Deborah Braillard, Hendershott said, "It would just be good business to make sure we knew what happened."
Wednesday's news of a settlement was another win for Braillard's lawyer, tort-titan Mike Manning, who's represented many of Arpaio's victims over the years. Whenever anyone badmouths lawyers, I call to mind Manning's bulldog intensity in fighting for his clients, which is a credit to his profession.
I mentioned the Braillard case in a recent column, bashing Joe for one of his cynical campaign ads, in which he hugs up on a supposed former meth addict who claims she was cured while locked up in Arpaio's vast incarceration complex.
The reality of Braillard's death and its cost, not Arpaio's lying propaganda, is what voters should remember when selecting Maricopa County's next sheriff in this election.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.