An obscene cross between a Three Stooges short and a snuff film. That's the gruesome scenario depicted by two notices of claim served on the City of Phoenix and Maricopa County totaling $20 million for the wrongful death of Army vet Marty Atencio.
The claims, submitted by Phoenix attorney Mike Manning on behalf of the Atencio family, allege that Atencio, though obviously suffering from mental illness, was "mocked, beaten, electrocuted, stripped naked and killed," by Phoenix Police officers and Maricopa County detention officers in December of last year.
Raw video of what Manning calls a "jailers riot" was released previously by the MCSO. Culling info from this video as well as from public documents and recordings released by the MCSO, Manning details the excessive force and humiliation inflicted upon the 44 year-old during his brief stay in MCSO custody.
According to interviews done by MCSO detectives of the detention officers and Phoenix cops involved, Atencio was not violent when he was brought to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Fourth Avenue Jail. This, after being arrested for yelling at a woman in West Phoenix on December 15.
Nevertheless, Atencio was manhandled and verbally abused throughout the booking process that night, according to Manning.
The attorney writes that PPD officer Patrick Hanlon "painfully marched Marty" around, quoting a witness as stating PPD officers led Atencio "with his hands and arms bent in what looked to be a very painful position" toward a processing room where he was to be handed over to MCSO custody.
In that room, moments later, Atencio would be pounced upon by a pack of deputies and PPD officers.
After being brutalized, Tased repeatedly, and left naked in a so-called "safe cell," Atencio stopped breathing. CPR was administered, and Atencio was transported, brain dead, to St. Joseph's Hospital. His family ultimately removed him from life support days later.
What prompted this deadly outbreak of violence against a harmless mentally ill man? Seems Atencio would not take off his shoes fast enough for the officers. So they leapt upon him, in what one witness described as a "dog pile."
MCSO detention officer Anthony Hatton struck Atencio "with a closed fist, multiple times," while Atencio was down, smothered in cops. Atencio also was repeatedly Tased by MCSO Sergeant Jason Weiers.
"Marty was screaming in pain, in a deep voice," according to one witness.
Another witness stated, "If they Tase him anymore, they are going to kill him."
Atencio likely breathed his last breath on his own in "safe cell 4," where Hatton "struck Marty several times with his knee," as others held him down. Another detention officer present, Blas Gabriel, "yelled out" at Hatton to stop, because he "didn't think that was necessary."
After Atencio was left in the safe cell, cops, detention officers and other jail personnel danced, joked and laughed about what had just transpired. Video shows two female jail staffers as they "dance and bump their butts together," while "another female CHS worker as well as another [detention officer] indifferently watch their antics."
Hatton and Hanlon, as identified by the notices of claim, can be seen smiling and laughing in the video. Manning provides several screen shots from MCSO video in both documents.
(Note: PDFs of the notices of claim are available after the jump.)