What's Mom Worth?: When a Woman Became Deathly Ill in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Jail, Guards and Nurses Ignored Her Agony

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Garfias does not call medical. She checks Braillard's identification and moves on.

Did she say she was coming off drugs?


Was she moving at all?

"Yes, she was."

In what way?

"Squirming in the bed."

She looked uncomfortable?


You thought she was in pain?

"I don't know."

You just said she was holding her stomach. You thought she was in pain?


"I gave the other inmates a change of pants and underwear.

"I had to put them in a biohazard bag because I assumed she had defecated herself."

Was she speaking?

"She was just moaning . . . I don't know when it began. She was moaning when I came on shift . . . It was kind of loud."

You never had any training from the sheriff on inmates kicking drugs?


In the wee hours of the morning, Garfias extracts Braillard from her cell .

"At around 3 [a.m.], I put Deborah in what we call a boat, in the dayroom."

Garfias fills out the paperwork.

"At approximately 2:45, Deborah was placed in the dayroom due to the fact she's kicking and was groaning, yelling, and keeping the whole dorm up, and the dorm kept yelling at her to shut up."

Although Braillard is moaning, screaming, vomiting repeatedly, and soiling herself, Garfias does not call for medical. Instead, she deposits the woman in a blue plastic canoe stuffed with bedding in the empty dayroom.

"As far as her bothering me . . . that wouldn't bother me since I was going to be up all night anyway."

Tamela Harper, inmate

(2007 deposition)

"We could still hear Deborah in the dayroom making calls out for help. She was moaning. Basically, in a moan, you are wanting help in some sort of way. They wouldn't do anything that morning."

Jennylee Braillard

(2010 interviews)

"Even when I was little, I knew she was using . . . There was no difference between when Mom was using and when she wasn't. She took care of me. Made my meals. Besides her issues, she was a good mom. When she was in rehab [in Washington state], I'd spend every weekend there. Slept over. It was great. At one point, we went camping. Another time, there was a talent show, and all the people were really nice. All the families got involved. Mom and I and another girl and her mom, we all sang, 'Going to the Chapel.'"

But Jennylee noticed early that her mom always fell for the wrong guy. She collected animals and losers as if she were their patron saint.

"Needless to say, Mom met a guy in rehab, and they left the program. He nearly beat her to death in a hotel. The cleaning lady found her unconscious."

Brenda Tomanini, inmate

(2007 deposition)

"To think that the staff didn't care that this woman is moaning and groaning and she's pleading for help. I don't know what's wrong with you. There can be a whole lot of things wrong with you, but I would want to try to get you some type of medical attention."

At 7 a.m. on January 5, detention officers Stephanie Lieppert and Lucy Akpan start their shift. Garfias tells them the inmate in the dayroom is kicking drugs. They move Deborah Braillard out of the day room back to her cell.

Tamela Harper, inmate

(2007 deposition)

"That morning [January 5] they put her back in the main area in her bunk. She had another seizure. She had several seizures, as many as seven."

Consider: On January 4, at 8:17 p.m., a friend attempts to visit Braillard but is informed that Deborah is too sick to see anyone. An hour and a half later, at 9:42 p.m., another friend, Debbie Fouts, phones the jail and informs them that Braillard is a diabetic and apparently has not received her insulin.

Deputy Brenda O'Neil takes down the information during the conversation with Fouts about Braillard's insulin and faxes it to the jail's medical clinic, about 40 feet from where the inmate is vomiting and defecating and moaning.

Deputy O'Neil's fax violates all protocol. Because a fax is notoriously unreliable, policy insists the critical information be conveyed personally.

None of the nurses in the clinic looks at the fax. Not when it comes in. Not ever.

At 11 p.m. on January 4, Jennylee gets a call from a woman, a friend of Deborah's. Jennylee learns for the first time that her mom is locked up. She immediately calls the jail.

Jennylee Braillard, daughter

(2010 interview)

"I called the number they give you and got her booking number, her charges, but it's basically an automated answering machine."

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey