PHOENIX (CN) - Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jailers killed a man by piling on him after he was assaulted by Phoenix police, the man's mother claims in court.
Alphatine Garnes sued "America's Toughest Sheriff," Maricopa County, and 20 of Arpaio's officers for the death of her son, Frederick Garnes. Garnes died in custody on Jan. 16, 2014, his mother claims in the Jan. 16 lawsuit in Maricopa County Court.
Garnes says her son was "preaching religious scriptures" on the street on Jan. 15, 2014 - his 46th birthday - when he was "assaulted by several Phoenix police officers, causing him to sustain serious injuries to his head, face, upper and lower extremities and he was arrested by said officers for an alleged aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest."
Garnes was taken to St. Luke's Hospital for evaluation, and doctors cleared him for police custody without performing any X-rays or lab work, his mother says.
He was taken to the Fourth Avenue Jail in the early hours of Jan. 16, and placed in an isolation cell for two hours without medical attention, though his left eye was "swollen shut," his mother says.
When Garnes was moved to another cell, a jailer noticed his "'left eye was puffed up and swollen and its color was purple and red and that he was acting erratic, talking out loud ... speaking incoherent words at the officers and every other word was Jesus and quotes from the Bible' ... and she also noted that Frederick 'was not physically resisting and allowed the detention officers to escort him wherever they needed him to go,'" according to the lawsuit.
Officers put her son in the cell, then "wrestled Frederick to the ground as they forcefully placed him in a prone position and stripped him naked and the detention officers piled up on him as he was lying on his belly with his legs pulled back to his buttock and crossed and detention officers put their body weight on top of him and then they used scissors to cut off the rest of his clothes and he suddenly stopped moving," the complaint states.
His mother claims the jailers waited five minutes to start CPR, but were unable to restart his heart.
She seeks punitive damages for wrongful death and civil rights violations.
She is represented by Sabinus Megwa.
Arpaio has been sued hundreds of times on civil rights claims.
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