Joe Arpaio Pleads for More Millions, as Juan Farias Mendoza's Ghost Looks On

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Consider this the first anti-Arpaio ad for 2012, ironically produced by Arpaio's goons, and censored heavily by them as well....

He's cost taxpayers $100 million in swiped county funds, has the blood of unfortunates such as Juan Farias Mendoza on his hands, was forced to settle to the tune of $1 million in that same case, boasts that he has $6 million in his own re-election coffers, and yet he wants still more of your cash?

Yep, that's our own corrupt-as-heck Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the biggest as-yet-unindicted criminal in Maricopa County, who just sent out the e-mail blast below seeking as much loot as he can stuff into his aged craw, all because Randy Parraz of Citizens for a Better Arizona fame has threatened to make Joe the next sleazy politician to go down after disgraced, former state Senate President Russell Pearce.

Penning this shameless appeal? None other than Joe's campaign manager Chad Willems of Summit Consulting, who along with Chuck Coughlin (otherwise known as Governor Jan Brewer's "brain") and slime-magnet Constantin Querard pimped mightily for Mesa's neo-Nazi-hugging ex-state Senator.

I caught Willems on the phone, who copped to disseminating the filthy-lucre-fundraising missive for Arpaio, but once again denied any collusion with Querard or others over the sham, pro-Pearce candidacy of Olivia Cortes

(Though he admitted that he and Coughlin did consult regularly about Pearce's embarrassing campaign as it was ongoing. Oh, to have been a fly on those walls.)

It's worth remembering, as we head into 2012, that the folks running and aiding Arpaio's campaign for re-election will be the same who backed Pearce's dirty effort to stave off the recall. 

Remember, also, that when some of Joe's brutal boys in beige beat and Tase another human being to death (um, allegedly), the ultimate settlement for this crime doesn't come out of the sheriff's $6 million-deep political pocket. 

That's something you and I have to pay as county taxpayers. In the case of Mendoza's family, we owe them $1 million for their loss.

Seems a meager sum to pay for a human life. Particularly considering the brutal, third-world nature of Mendoza's demise. 

In MCSO custody for an outstanding DUI warrant in 2007, Mendoza was, according to the complaint brought by the mother of his three children, violently assaulted by MCSO personnel, "pepper balled and Tased...several times." 

These detention officers "charged [Mendoza] with a stun shield and aggressively hit him," all while the 40 year-old was naked, handcuffed behind his back.

The list of Mendoza's injuries is so long, it would take a two or three page blog post for me to reproduce it. Read the complaint, here, for a full recounting.

Video released by the MCSO has obviously been tampered with, but still resembles footage from the 1982 Costa-Gavras film Missing, about the bloody, right-wing dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

The photos of Mendoza's corpse tell the tale. If I had the means to do so, I'd buy a billboard near downtown, and set one of these photos of Mendoza's tortured body next to the smiling, porcine mug of our almost-octogenarian sheriff, an equals sign between them.

It was my colleague John Dickerson who broke the Mendoza story in 2008 after receiving an anonymous tip. Dickerson has since left New Times, but his description of what Mendoza endured remains bone-chilling. I reproduce it here in part. 

At the time, Mendoza was undergoing alcohol withdrawal:

Eleven officers teamed up to move [Mendoza]. They swarmed him, wrapped a blanket over his head, and strapped a leather restraint, known as a "belly belt," around the blanket to hold it in place.

Then they put him in a wheelchair with restraints.

"Get me out of here. They just kidnapped me. They are trying to shoot me. They just [shot] me on my legs. Somebody is trying to kill me," [Mendoza]yelled as the officers surrounded him, according to one sergeant's report.

Another officer wrote that [Mendoza] was "talking nonsense."

Maybe not. Photos show that he was, indeed, shot in the legs -- by Tasers and pepper balls. And he did stop breathing minutes after shouting that he was being killed.

As officers pulled [Mendoza] out of the wheelchair, they wrestled a "spit mask" over his mouth. Spit masks are used to cover an inmate's face below the nose; they're supposed to be used only if an inmate is biting or spitting.

Officers then pushed [Mendoza's] face down on his stomach -- a deadly position that can lead to suffocation if guards push down too hard. It's well known in law enforcement that an inmate on his stomach can easily die from "positional asphyxiation." If the inmate is cuffed behind the back and officers apply too much pressure, the lungs simply can't function. A mask over the mouth -- limiting airflow -- can exacerbate the situation.

Two officers held [Mendoza's] legs and other guards pinned down his arms and back while yet another "held his head down" for nearly 10 minutes, according to the reports.

[Mendoza] was fighting for his life. The county medical examiner documented "blunt force injuries" on his face, torso, and limbs. His neck muscles hemorrhaged internally from the strain, and a gash was notched out of his nose -- either from being struck or from being pressed into something.

As the guards held him face down, one noticed that [Mendoza] was no longer moving or breathing. The guards rolled him over and pulled the spit mask off his mouth. It was filled with blood. So were his nostrils.

The guards attempted CPR, but it didn't work. [Mendoza] was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Mendoza's wrongful death is but one of many over the years in Arpaio's gulags that have cost Maricopa County taxpayers $50 million in payouts and legal fees.

If Arpaio were directly liable for such settlements and awards, I'm guessing he might have checked on his own brutality and the brutality of his men long ago. 

But when there are no consequences for criminality and wrongdoing, it's an open invitation for perpetrators to repeat their nefarious deeds. 

Arpaio's longtime justifier, MCSO flack Jack MacIntyre, characteristically blamed the victim in an interview with Fox 10, complaining that Mendoza was no "decathlete," and poo-pooh-ing the $1 million payout as simply going into a lawyer's account somewhere and being of no use to Mendoza's family.

If Dante's hell were a reality, where divine punishment is designed to fit the crime, MacIntyre would be forced to view images of Mendoza's torture for all eternity, his eyes propped open like those of Malcolm McDowell's character in A Clockwork Orange.

Those opposed to Arpaio should recall Mendoza, the $100 million Arpaio has criminally squandered, and the sheriff's misdeeds with his erstwhile partners-in-overreach -- disgraced former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, ex-enforcer David Hendershott, and the now-dethroned Pearce -- whenever they require motivation for outing Arpaio in 2012.

Sure, like some Chicago mob boss of old, Arpaio may have $6 million in the bank. But there's not enough money in the world to wash the blood of Arpaio's victims from his hands. And there are some things -- as Pearce's recent defeat has taught us -- that cannot be glossed over, no matter how slick or pricey the PR machine involved.

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