Family, friends and those touched by the tragedy of Ernest "Marty" Atencio, the Army vet Tased and brutalized till brain dead in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails, gathered at Peoria's Heritage Funeral Chapel for his funeral service today.
Atencio, who was 44 at the time he was removed from life support on December 20, lay in an open casket as a montage of photos from his life played on a nearby screen.
Pastor Greg Johannes gave the eulogy, reading at one point from a passage written by Atenctio, in which he spoke of his faith in God.
Afterward, Atencio's brothers, his niece and his three sons spoke in remembrance of him.
His brother Eric talked of how he looked up to his elder brother when he was a kid, recalling Marty as a charismatic man, who always had time for those in need.
Eric Atencio also spoke of how his brother had recently turned a new page in his life, but that his chance for a new beginning had been cut short.
"He was cheated," he said, his voice breaking.
Atencio's brother Mike, just four years his junior, was overcome by emotion, and allowed Pastor Johannes to read, on his behalf, a Bible passage he'd picked for the ceremony.
I sat down with Mike and Eric Atencio a couple of days ago, and they shared with me their feelings on the wrongful death of their brother in MCSO custody.
You can read that account, here.
Marty Atencio's three sons and his niece followed. They remembered their father and uncle as a loving man, who always made them laugh and would remind them frequently that God loved them.
After the service, a motorcade followed the funeral car to the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix, where Atencio was laid to rest with full military honors.
An honor guard fired a three-volley salute, a bugler played Taps and Atencio's mother and father were presented with the flag from their son's coffin, before that coffin was taken away.
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