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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Widow and Children Sue|’America’s Toughest Sheriff’

PHOENIX (CN) - Maricopa County Sheriff's officers killed a peaceable man they had arrested for drunk driving by beating and torturing him while he was shackled hand and foot, naked and hooded, shooting him with pepper balls in an enclosed space and then Tasering him to death, his widow and children claim in Maricopa County Court. Defendant Sheriff Joe Arpaio calls himself "America's toughest sheriff."

Juan Farias Mendoza's wife and kids are represented by Luis Guerra. They say Farias was "subjected to multiple physical tortures" that killed him, on Dec. 2, 2007.

They claim that numerous sheriff's officers assaulted him while he "was handcuffed with both hands behind his back, his feet shackled and sometimes even with a hood over his head and completely naked."

They claim that while Farias was in this state he was "repeatedly pepper balled with several gun launched pepper balls ... at least 10 pepper balls ... causing the complete saturation of the air inside of defendants' small cell." Then, the family says, while some deputies had to leave the cell, retching and coughing, others repeatedly shot the helpless man repeatedly with a Taser. All the while, they say, other inmates were begging the deputies to stop torturing a defenseless man. Finally, the family says, the deputy-torturers "laughed, and celebrated their unlawful, negligent and grossly negligent actions by high-fiving each other."

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