County to Shell Out $1 Million to Family of Man Who Died While in MCSO Custody

You can tack another $1 million on to the more than $50 million in legal settlements Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has cost county taxpayers -- the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a settlement in a lawsuit filed by a man who died while in the sheriff's custody.

The family of Juan Farias Mendoza initially sued the county for $6 million.

Mendoza found himself in the custody of the MCSO following a 2007 arrest for driving under the influence. While in custody, Mendoza had several altercations with Arpaio's detention officers, which the lawsuit claims led to his death.

According to the notice of claim, Detention officers used pepper spray, Tasers, physical force, and a spit mask on Mendoza while he was in custody. A county medical examiner later found that the bruises on Mendoza's body showed signs of trauma.

The sheriff's office didn't immediately respond to our request for comment, but Arpaio tells the Arizona Republic that he doesn't recall the details of Mendoza's death.

"It was settled due to the nature of doing business," Arpaio tells the paper. "That wasn't up to us, that was the county that decided to settle it. We have nothing to do with us. We never like to lose anybody in jail, but we have ... 300,000 (inmates) come through our jails since I've been sheriff. Sometimes you have people that pass away."

Luis Guerra, the attorney representing Mendoza's family didn't return New Times' multiple phone calls.

See Mendoza's family's notice of claim here.

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