PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The video evidence is damning, in a clip taken at Perryville women's prison in August shows a corrections officer looking into the cell of 25-year-old Cynthia Apkaw, a woman serving time for aggravated assault. The officer sees Apkaw hanging from the ceiling where she used a bed sheet and tied it to an overhead vent, something that patrolling corrections officers should have seen happening, but they didn't, because they were not there.
The video shows them running panicked into the picture at right, it was summer time, and it was hot, at least six of them were inside an air-conditioned command center instead of watching the inmates.
Emergency crews tried to save Apkaw but it was too late, and her body was carried out of the unit.
In February of 2016, there was another similar incident, CO's failed to patrol properly in the Florence Prison allowing 45-year-old Scott Saba to hang himself with an electrical cord, lifesaving efforts again failed to save him.
"It's disappointing to find some employees who decided not to do their duties," said DOC Director Charles Ryan.
Ryan took the unprecedented steps of firing 13 employees, including three supervisors for their actions or inactions on the job. Another 8 were suspended or reprimanded. It's not known if the officers could have stopped the suicides from happening, but an investigation found some of the officers falsified records and lied to investigators.
Is this a systematic problem or is this an isolated situation of two groups of CO's who weren't doing their jobs.
"I don't believe this is a reflection on 9,100 other employees, but the message is these 21 employees didn't do their job the way they should have, and they've answered for it," said Ryan.