Joe Arpaio's Victim Marty Atencio in MCSO's "Safe Cell": Mike Manning Comments

Video of Atencio being stripped and left naked in a cell, taken from MCSO footage by Phoenix videographer Dennis Gilman. Note: Gilman obscured parts of Atencio's body to maintain the dignity of the victim. As with the first video, there is no sound.

Above is more disturbing raw footage culled from the eight hours of video the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office recently released of Army vet Ernest "Marty" Atencio in MCSO custody. 

The video shows several uniformed officers placing Atencio in an ironically named "safe cell" and stripping off his clothing. He's then left naked and motionless on the bare floor of the cell, as another MCSO officer trains what looks to be a Taser light on the defenseless inmate.

As this last officer exits, Atencio's stomach expands and contracts once. The Atencio family's attorney Mike Manning believes that this may have been Atencio's death sigh.

"That was probably his last breath," Manning told me this morning. "We'll see when we get the autopsy back. But there's a heave, and then he's motionless again forever."

Atencio was arrested by Phoenix police officers December 15 after exhibiting bizarre behavior, according to a Phoenix Police Department statement. The 44 year-old Peoria man was later taken to the MCSO's Fourth Avenue Jail to be booked for assault. 

After he was "discovered" unresponsive in his cell, Atencio was transported to Saint Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, where he was placed on life-support. Last Tuesday, the Atencio family made the decision to remove their brain-dead loved one from life-support. He died that same day.

Manning said the Atencio family has commissioned its own independent autopsy to be done on Atencio's corpse. He expected the county medical examiner's office to finish its examination of the body as early as today.

He described the family as "devastated" by the video of what was done to Atencio in custody, and stated that funeral arrangements had not yet been made.

Manning, a veteran of several successful lawsuits involving wrongful deaths in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails -- including such horrific cases as those of Scott Norberg, Deborah Braillard, Brian Crenshaw and Charles Agster, said he was surprised by what he saw in his review of the video.

"I was skeptical of [the MCSO's] initial press spin," Manning related. "You never know, particularly with a person who is [bipolar and] off his medications, but it is clear that Marty wasn't threatening anybody."

Indeed, in the first raw footage New Times posted last week, Atencio does not appear aggressive toward the several officers who confront him before he's taken to the ground -- hardly the "combative" individual the MCSO described in its press comments before the video's release.

"MCSO never accurately states the circumstances when they first come out with their spin," Manning observed. "This is right out of their Norberg-Agster-Crenshaw playbook. It's always that the inmate started a ruckus and was combative and superhuman in a drug-induced strength."

Still, the MCSO's falsehoods may have gained them a little traction with certain elements of the press. 

Even after the release of a video that does not back up the MCSO's claims, some media outlets persisted in depicting Atencio as having initiated a struggle with officers, though this is clearly not the case.

A careful review of what transpired on video shows a one-way street, with Atencio the victim of what Manning calls a "jailers' riot." 

Manning also observed that one bald MCSO officer appears to knee Atencio in the head more than once in the safe cell, as Atencio lies there helpless. Another officer in a cap taps the bald officer, as if to signal him to stop.

"In the safe cell, it looks like [Atencio] is kneed in the head," said Manning. "In addition to that, it looks like there's an officer placing his weight on Marty's back, which of course compromises severely a body's ability to breathe.

"We don't have the results back from the autopsy, but it won't surprise me if he died from respiratory arrest because of the weight placed on his back."

Though there is later footage (not seen in this segment) of uniformed personnel performing CPR on Atencio's body, this portion certainly lends credence to claims that Atencio died in Arpaio's jails and was shipped out to St. Joseph's Hospital so the MCSO did not have to report an "in-custody" death.

Manning pointed out the MCSO had encountered Atencio in the past after Atencio was arrested for relatively minor violations, and that Atencio's medical history -- including his mental issues -- was known to the MCSO, and neglected by the agency.

The Atencio family has revealed Atencio was bipolar and would have episodes involving encounters with law enforcement when he was not on medication. In a previous interview, Manning indicated that blood tests done after Atencio's hospitalization showed no alcohol or illicit drugs in his system.

But as Manning points out, even if Atencio was off his meds, the video does not indicate that he was a threat to anyone.

"He was passive," said Manning of Atencio in the footage. "Clearly confused, but he didn't swing his arms, didn't kick his legs or feet, didn't try to head-butt anybody, including fellow inmates or detention officers. He appeared throughout the entire episode to be non-threatening."

This was confirmed, Manning stated, by the fact that Atencio was uncuffed by the Phoenix police officers present, one of whom was the first to take Atencio down.

"Cops are trained to never uncuff somebody who is a potential threat to themselves or to the police," he said.

He also stated that he believed the MCSO violated its own rules of procedure, particularly those taught to all law enforcement officers in regard to the "use of force continuum," which dictates when certain levels of physical force are used. 

And Manning maintained that, according to the video, the Phoenix Police Department is "directly involved" in the incident with Atencio, as Phoenix police officers were the first "to use force against" Atencio after uncuffing him.

The decision to file a notice of claim -- a prelude to a lawsuit filed with the jurisdictions involved, such as the county or the city -- has not yet been made, Manning told me, but was "highly likely" given the video.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this segment of the video is reminiscent of footage from 2007 of another inmate, Juan Farias Mendoza, who perished in Arpaio's gulags, allegedly at the hands of his jailers.

2007 video of Juan Farias Mendoza, another of Joe Arpaio's many victims

This year, Mendoza's family settled with Maricopa County for $1 million. I post the Mendoza video here so that you can see for yourselves the obvious parallels.

UPDATE 12/28/11: For Atencio's obituary and funeral service schedule, please click, here.

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73 comments
Pissed Off Motha Fucka!
Pissed Off Motha Fucka!

This video just pisses me off. There are way too many fucking cops around this guy. You can see one of them fat fucks laughing while they are attacking this poor guy. This really changes how I view police officers. What a bunch of fucking pricks. They wonder why people don't like them. I understand they deal with assholes all day, but you do NOT need 8-12 officers around ONE guy. Seriously? Assholes. I hope the family sues the holy hell out of the police department and MCSO for killing their loved one. That was completely unnecessary. If they had done this to a family member of mine or a friend, I really cannot tell you what I would do. Enough is enough of police brutality. I know this is only a small percentage of officers (the assholes that hurt people), but "it is what it is". . . .  Dicks!

BlackWallStreet10mm
BlackWallStreet10mm

And all these idiot cops walk around wondering why the general public is afraid of them, and does not trust them. THIS is why we don't trust you. It is very clear that you cannot be trusted.

LAURIE
LAURIE

I FUCKING HATE AND I CAN NOT SAY IT LOUD ENOUGH I HATE THE BASTARDS I KNOW THEY WILL ALL ROT IN HELL SOME DAY AND IT COULD NOT BE TOO SOON THEY JUST KEEP ON MURDERING WHY

Xica
Xica

MCSO and Phoenix Police are like a pack of wolves preying on its prey! How convenient for these officers that the audio is missing.  All these officers should be tried for murder!

Peace7
Peace7

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is EVIL, he has so much blood on his hands from all the inmates that have died in his jails and at the hands of his detention officers.

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

My question for every politician is simple: What side of history do you want to be remembered as being on? 

To be an elected official and not call for Arpaio's resignation at this pointis cowardly, shameful and irresponsible. 

Former Republican
Former Republican

Dennis Gilman, Well said. The people need to continually remind them because they hope the people will not notice. To remain silent is to be complicit. We will then know who exactly to vote for and who to work hard to oust out of office!  Arizona is a state run by playground bullies.

wherewasi
wherewasi

I could not agree with you more, Dennis.  This is appalling.  It is chilling.  It is outrageous.

Montgomery better get his ass in gear and get some charges rolling, and FAST.  He scoffed at the DOJ report saying that the examples given were old and that the current state of affairs was not reflective of the DOJ's findings... BULLSHIT!  Joe's thugs sure offered him up a "current" case in a hurry.

Can you get your camera rolling and go scouting with Stephen to interview some more of our local political punks?

Jason
Jason

"Montgomery better get his ass in gear and get some charges rolling, and FAST.  He scoffed at the DOJ report saying that the examples given were old and that the current state of affairs was not reflective of the DOJ's findings... BULLSHIT!  Joe's thugs sure offered him up a "current" case in a hurry."

Don't hold your breath. Monty is a Flaccid Failure owned politician. The Old Fool bought and paid for Monty because the MCSO shurf despised Romley and his efforts to control the Senile Septuagenarian and the MCSO. Now, Monty is much like my pug, at its master's (the Old Fool) beck and call.

alison hicks
alison hicks

So Inhumane. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is responsible for these deaths as leader of the jail. He hires these people that work for him. Normal humans don't take jobs and kill people like this unless they are trained by Arpaio's mentality. Sick, racist, controlling mind it takes to work for Arpaio. He needs to be criminally held for these deaths.

Anon
Anon

Alison, Your comment is spot-on! Thank you for the outstanding work you do for others.

Jason
Jason

"He needs to be criminally held for these deaths."

So long as the Old Fool remains MCSO shurf, he will continue to enjoy governmental immunity, which enables him and the SS goon squads to continue to do whatever they want.

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio is responsible for these deaths as leader of the jail."

Joe's not a leader. He's a criminal. Much like Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

Wildlandff1
Wildlandff1

Ok Arpio, I was with you on our ilegal imigrants, But my Friend you no longer deserve to be our Sheriff. No matter what the offense is/was these people are human. They are AMERICAN!!!! I vote you out!!!

Cplbalmaceda
Cplbalmaceda

Burn the motherfucker! don't you people realize how racist this guy is!? He uses the law to hide hes racism from and bend truth and law to hes own accommodation to do what he feels like doing and break it down and publicly admit to it but  make it legalize! Modern day fucking Nazi! So hey Joe I'm Luis Alfonso Balmaceda, don't have any papers nor am i a citizen! So Go FUCK yourself! Oh yea Im a former United States Marine 1/5 Wpns. Co. 81's Plt Marine Infantry, Go Fuck Yourself You Piece Of Shit!

murmur55
murmur55

 These restraint deaths will continue until citizens demand criminal prosecution of LEOs

Asphyxial Death During Prone Restraint Revisited: 21 Cases http://bit.ly/p86G5F

Colorado police should learn Wyoming’s lesson - The SCOTUS agrees with a lower court that death in restraint due to suffocation is unconstitutional.  http://bit.ly/q0Euds

Jason
Jason

There is absolutely no doubt that Mr. Atencio was murdered. Mr. Manning will more than likely take this issue to trial.

The MCSO shurf and Monty should be disgusted and outraged by this. Instead, the Old Fool is in Iowa campaigning for Rick Perry, whose campaign has been sinking rapidly. Monty hasn't even said anything about this. Why are we paying these people if we cannot expect justice?

RIP Mr. Atencio, and may our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ watch over you.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

There is no doubt that manning will exploit this death for every penny it's worth.

Jason
Jason

That's his job as a lawyer. So long as Mr. Manning is making a paycheck, you're right that he will exploit the death for every penny it's worth.

Jason
Jason

I couldn't agree with you more.

Former Republican
Former Republican

When will the voters wake up? They re-elect the sheriff who is wasting hundreds of millions of their dollars. When will a lawsuit outcome of millions of $$'s finally get their attention. Mr. Manning, sue the hell of the county and the state. 

Those who remain silent and support cruel and inhumane treatment of human beings are complicit. These officials must be voted out of office, until then lawyers will continue to get richer and richer. Wake up voters!!

Margie Camarena
Margie Camarena

these men involved should be place under arrest...they should also do the time required for neglegence. This has to stop. People are dying at their hands. HOW horrible. WOW. To treat a human body like that? HE is a person. I don't know how they can live with themselves. That is why everyone needs to be armed in Arizona. Everyone. Not just them.

Crow
Crow

If someone (anyone) was to fight with 10 fatass cops hopped up on steriods for 15 minutes, wouldn't they be panting just a little? 

These deputies and cops murdered this guy for kicks. He wasn't combative. They all belong in jail for life. 

Clarity
Clarity

Time to expose Arpaio Supporters. It starts with this file:http://www.fileserve.com/file/...

Those who blindly and ignorantly support a murderous tyrant who does NOTdo his job, but rather parades around the country in support of another demonshould be exposed!

Your mama
Your mama

All I get is spam off your link.  Fix it. Text files don't require that I load and pay for software. If you actually have any info share it otherwise quit spaminfg your shit. 

AnotherMesaVoter
AnotherMesaVoter

Marty's brother was right, he was murdered.There is video evidence that he was murdered and I'm not hearing about any arrests.

If this had been ANYONE else besides the sheriff's department and there was a video showing this, I think a lot of people would be calling the police and demanding that the people involved were arrested.

Steve_Mart1n
Steve_Mart1n

One thing I keep noticing over and over in all of these cases, against both MCSO and PHX PD, is the attitude by law enforcement that saying ANYTHING other than "yes" to an officer, seems to be grounds (in their minds) to proceed to physical force.

It's like Phx and MCSO have no force control knob - it's either on or off, there is no in between.

Odd - I don't remember this country being a dictatorship or the constitution of this country giving LEO's the power of enforcement, judge and jury, yet that is how they seem to be acting.

I am ex LEO myself and I understand that you have to be in control of the situation. There are ways to control a situation that do not require resorting to force, force just happens to be the 'easiest' solution.

Seems to me that MCSO and PHX, for that matter LEO's in this country in general as of late, have forgotten that they are there to enforce the law, not enforce the people.

Both MCSO and PHX PD share responsibility for this tragedy.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Steve, you make a very strong and compelling statement. Just think how nice it would be if we had a sheriff who had the intestinal fortitude to release a statement such as this,

"A citizen died in our jail last night and we're sorry for the friends and family of this man. MCSO will be conducting an immediate investigation and and violations of MCSO policy and procedure will result in discipline. Any criminal violations will be referred to the county attorney for consideration. Those MCSO employees involved in this situation have been place on paid administrative leave and will be cooperating in the investigation"

You may remember from your days wearing a badge that when the badge shines too brightly in your own eyes you can be blinded by it and not see reality, fairness, ethics and values.

That is when the peace officer becomes larger and more important in his own mind than he is in reality. Thus, the MCSO sheriff and some of the MCSO employees.

As a training officer I always told my trainees that we treat folks as we would expect to be treated in the same circumstances.

I really doubt Marty Atencio would have killed anyone as he was killed.

DPSnAZ
DPSnAZ

@ both Steve Martin and Tommy Collins  -  There isn't anything significant I could add to your posts - except that I support both of them vociferously ! Tank you both!

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Well said.  There is certainly room for improvement on how this investigation is being handled.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Simply put, this man should not have died that night.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Ever watch  GroundHog day?

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

put it this way, he should HAVE never died in police custody on any night.

Leonardclark
Leonardclark

City of Phx. now has moral and financial culpability for aiding and abetting Sheriff Joe Arpaio's corrupt deputies ! Shame on city of Phoenix !!!!!! Immediate disciplining needs to be done of these employees ! Coroner said that there were no illicit drugs in Mr. Atencio's system !Leonard ClarkArizona and Phoenix nativePersian Gulf 90-91 / Iraq vet III 05-06

Leonardclark
Leonardclark

Thank you but your ignorant....the fact is the city of Tempe still holds some of their arrestees in their own jail. Now...the Arizona constitution mandates travel and the jails in each county but there is nothing forcing the cities to send their accused prisoners there. And...even if they do again...your ignorant because the Arizona constitution is not the U.S. constitution and has been changed on average multiple times per decade...in other words, there is nothing stopping us from changing some of its outdated mandates.Leonard Clark

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

In theory, I will agree with YPS on this point.

That said, however, it's not actually the state or federal constitution that mandates the duty and responsibilities of the county sheriffs in Arizona, rather it is Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 11-441 (A) 5.

Which says, in part, "5. Take charge of and keep the county jail, including a county jail under the jurisdiction of a county jail district, and the prisoners in the county jail."

Each law enforcement agency has the right to contract with the county jail and have that jail 'hold' detainees for trail or disposition of charges.

YPS makes a very good point. Having a municipal jail is very costly and not financially responsible, thus it's cheaper to pay the county on a per person per day basis than to try to hold detainees in a local facility.

Interestingly, 11-411 says the first thing county sheriffs should be doing is: "Preserve the Peace".

Conversely, in my opinion, I think the MCSO sheriff spends too much time disturbing the peace of us citizens in his extreme zeal for personal aggrandizement and recognition.

As such, he seems to be in violation of the very law that is intended to tell him what he is "supposed" to be doing.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

I can't disagree on any point you made. 

Thank you for correctly posting the authorship of the responsibilities of the sheriff.  

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

When calling someone ignorant it's best to use proper spelling otherwise YOU'RE the one looking ignorant.

Cities building their own jails is a far cry from being cost effective or efficient, especially in the current financial climate.

Wbea
Wbea

You are ignorant and you are also a loser who works for MCSO.  Your writting style is the same as other fake trolls who defend Arpaio over all kinds stuff like breaking womens arms, chaining pregnant women up while giving birth, stealing millions from tax payers stc. You still defend Arpaio when he let Adrian Cruz walk out? A convicted child molester serving life sentences walks out and you defend Arpaio? You are a fool. You are losing. You haven't made a successful arguement for the old pervert yet. It's fun having you around though. Keep posting. 

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Where have I defended Arpaio reference Adrian Cruz? When has Arpaio been accused of breaking women's (plural) arms?  Are you suggesting that one can not objectively criticize Arpaio, rather it is only appropriate to weep and wail and nash teeth at anything and everything that may stick to the wall regardless of whether or not it is true?

What "writting" style are you referring to specifically?  Littering your personal attack adhominem with lies and inconsistencies does not make your argument valid.

Leonardclark
Leonardclark

For how long has the city of Phoenix leadership looked the other way while they deposit their prisoners into Joe Arpaio's clutches at the Maricopa county jail. The city of Tempe does not do so, why then does Phoenix?

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

You are incorrect.  There isn't a single agency in the valley that does not contract with MCSO for jail service.  Tempe holds their misdemeanor arrests, yes, but their felony arrests are transported to 4th ave with the rest of the valley. 

Your angle is based on ignorance.  The sheriffs of each county are mandated by the Arizona Constitution to maintain the housing and transportation of inmates within their respective counties.

There is not alternative for the City of Phoenix for the housing of their arrestees.

Leonardclark
Leonardclark

Thank you Mr. Stephen Lemons for  being there and reporting this and thanks to our friend Dennis Gilman for going through the videos with you !  The city of Phoenix right along with the sheriff is responsable for this and those who committed this atrocious crime against my fellow Persian Gulf veteran need to be brought to justice !Leonard ClarkArizona and Phoenix native (born Good Samaritan hospital)Persian Gulf vet 90-91 / Iraq III vet 05-0612-27-11

Lfp5691
Lfp5691

Please listen to lieutenant Mike-stauffer radio interviewPlease consider voting for lieutenant Mike-stauffer for our next Maricopa sheriff.

http://theloushow.com/2011/12/...

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Your link wasn't working for me. Do you have the web address? I am interested in what he has to say before the medical exam comes out.

GreenHornet
GreenHornet

I am, too. I know Stauffer wants to beat Arpaio. But Atencio should not be a political football, please. 

Dee321
Dee321

arpaio's goons are murderers. murderers. this is outrageous.this is the very last straw.latinos are uniting across the nation as we speak.we will NOT tolerate this racist, abusive behavior.arpaio should be in prison!

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

no matter what Marty may or may not have done, from what the video shows he was brutally murdered by the MCSO and possibly the PPD, although I put most of the blame on MCSO.

YOUR BRO
YOUR BRO

 whats so safe about a safe cell? it doesn't sound very safe to me. living life on earth is not safe either.

YOUR BRO
YOUR BRO

 DONT BRO ME IF YOU DONT KNOW ME.

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