Skip to main content

The family of 44-year-old Ernest Atencio took him off life support Wednesday and he soon slipped from coma into death. That's a consequence of a fight during booking procedures with Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff's deputies and Phoenix police a week ago. He had been arrested on assault charges, claims that he was kicking a door and confronting a woman aggressively. Members of Atencio's family say he was Tasered, and his brother Mike, who was at his bedside when the plug was pulled, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio had "murdered" him.

An internal investigation is under way, according to the sheriff's office.

Given the way Arpaio has run things in his nearly 20 years as Maricopa County sheriff, Atencio's death comes as no surprise. He, or someone else detained by the department, was bound to end up brain dead for no good reason, with family and friends sobbing and furious around him.

Atencio's death comes on the heels of a three-year federal investigation that concluded there was extensive discrimination against Latinos by the Maricopa sheriff's office. That includes unlawful detention, racial profiling, punishment for not speaking English, retaliation for complaints, wide deviation from accepted police practices, a lack of accountability, a "chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations," excessive force and the failure to investigate sex crimes.

The Justice Department gave the flamboyant, ultra-conservative Arpaio, who bills himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff," 60 days to come up with a court-enforceable agreement dealing with the issues raised in the investigation. It also severed some ties between the Department of Homeland Security and the sheriff's office. Arpaio, true to form, responded to the release of the investigators' conclusions with what amounted to flipping them the bird. It's all political, he said. Just Democrats beating up on a Republican. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Trailed by reporters, Arpaio himself tried to move along, saying:

"I'm not trying to avoid you, we have to do an investigation. We do it all the time, we have an incident in the jails...we're going to do this one too, very professionally."

All the time, indeed. Professionally? Not so much.

You'd think that somewhere in news from the land of  “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” the conclusions about abuses and civil rights violations and failure to investigate cases of pedophilia would be countered by data about how the sheriff's efforts have driven crime way down, so the critics should just shut up.

As the chart at the top shows, however, crime is down in Arizona. In all but Arpaio's jurisdiction. Besides being a bully and a racist, he's incompetent.

[UPDATE]: The Maricopa Country Sheriff's Office has released eight hours of jail video leading up to and including the altercation of deputies with Ernest Atencio.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 12:32 PM PST.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

JekyllnHyde, Angie in WA State, hazey, Bill in Portland Maine, teacherken, deben, mimi, tommurphy, Shockwave, mslat27, eeff, rasbobbo, opinionated, Justina, bronte17, 88kathy, susans, boadicea, navajo, sidnora, revsue, NMRed, tomephil, TexDem, ranger995, hoolia, smash, QuoVadis, betson08, zerelda, Curt Matlock, lonespark, Josiah Bartlett, rapala, ExStr8, maybeeso in michigan, historys mysteries, BCO gal, ChemBob, YucatanMan, SaraBeth, Sun Tzu, sofia, Sandino, kaliope, Ozzie, Ginny in CO, coolbreeze, dsteffen, JanF, Alan Arizona, Land of Enchantment, noweasels, Mother Mags, Paul Ferguson, Kingsmeg, tonyahky, KenBee, dougymi, Preston S, CA Nana, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, blueness, FrankieB, kurious, BentLiberal, Thinking Fella, Elisa, jessical, Debs2, LillithMc, dclawyer06, aliasalias, bnasley, jhop7, hopi13, Librarianmom, Got a Grip, Empower Ink, davidseth, HappyinNM, Sixty Something, bythesea, skohayes, tofumagoo, dewley notid, luckylizard, Uncle Bob, Quilldriver, CA coastsider, 207wickedgood, notrouble, Denise Oliver Velez, sfarkash, Larsstephens, Railfan, fidellio, tb mare, Puddytat, dlemex, ramara, melfunction, soaglow, not4morewars, kerflooey, allenjo, luvmykona, FarWestGirl, Muskegon Critic, BarackStarObama, enhydra lutris, Caddis Fly, cailloux, Democrats Ramshield, jolux, Mathazar, AnnetteK, Sister Inspired Revolver of Freedom, jacey, Liberal Granny, anodnhajo, IndieGuy, foucaultspendulum, Eric Nelson, Horace Boothroyd III, Lorinda Pike, jan4insight, the Don, TheGrandWazoo, radical simplicity, qannabbos, notdarkyet, Margd, arizonablue, ItsaMathJoke, SwedishJewfish, Setsuna Mudo, gypsytoo

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site